Access to Health

Access to Health

Our Approach
to Access

Our Approach
to Access
Access to Health

Millions of people worldwide are living longer, healthier, more productive lives today thanks, in part, to better health care and access to innovative medicines and vaccines. At the same time, it is unacceptable that the vast majority of people around the world are unable to benefit from these advances in medicines and health care.

As a global health care company, we believe we have an important role and responsibility in improving access to medicines, vaccines and quality health care worldwide, thereby helping to reduce the burden of disease around the world. We also believe that expanding access is a business imperative for optimizing and sustaining our business over the long term.

We recognize the need to engage more effectively with external stakeholders to better understand their needs.

Barriers to quality care and medical treatment—such as a lack of trained health care professionals, weak infrastructure, civil strife and a shortage of safe water in many parts of the world—make even basic health care delivery difficult at best, and these challenges go well beyond what we can directly address alone.

We believe our role is to work in partnership with others—local communities, governments, donors, patient organizations, health care professionals, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), multilateral organizations and others in the private sector—to contribute our expertise and knowledge.

We are proud to be a founding member of Access Accelerated — a first-of-its-kind, multi-stakeholder collaboration focused on improving NCD prevention and care. Launched on January 18, 2017 during the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Access Accelerated brings together 22 biopharmaceutical companies and partners such as the World Bank and the Union of International Cancer Control (UICC).
Learn more about our commitment to prevention and care for non-communicable diseases.

We also have an important role to play through our public policy and outreach efforts, to advocate for changes that will improve access.

We also look at our contributions to improving health through a global population health lens. Because our medicines and vaccines target important health problems that affect millions of people on a global basis, we are—by definition—in the population health business.

Improving population health is an overarching goal for health care stakeholders: countries, payers and providers who are seeking better prevention, population health management and community interventions to protect and promote good health. Because of our unique and differentiated reach, and our science and capabilities that can be leveraged in collaboration with partners, we are able to contribute to significant population health improvements.

Our access to health strategy supports the company’s overall mission to discover, develop and produce innovative products and services that save and improve lives around the world. Our mission to improve the health and wellness of people around the world by expanding access to medicines and vaccines is one of our company’s five core values. To guide our efforts we follow our companywide Access to Health Statement of Guiding Principles, which articulates our approach.

Research & Development

We will engage in R&D to provide medicines and vaccines that address vital global health needs. Learn more.

Manufacturing & Supply

We are committed to providing patients and customers with high-quality products and a reliable supply of safe and effective medicines and vaccines. Learn more.


We will register our products in a timely fashion in markets where they are needed. Learn more.


We will commercialize our products in a way that develops our company’s business and meets local needs in a responsible and efficient manner. Learn more.

Community Investment

We recognize that we cannot address complex public health challenges on our own; therefore, we will engage in community investment to address the barriers to access where we believe we can make the strongest contribution. Learn more.

These Guiding Principles help us to embed policies and practices into our operations and business strategies that expand access in innovative ways and on an ongoing basis. Our Principles contributed significantly to an industrywide effort through the Business for Social Responsibility (BSR) Healthcare Working Group to develop the Guiding Principles on Access to Health care (GPAH). In 2013, we were one of 13 pharmaceutical companies to sign on to the GPAH, which provides a common framework to shape global health goals through multi-sector partnerships. In 2014, we contributed to an analysis of the Guiding Principles in action through the 2014 Status Report, and we continue to participate as a member of the BSR Healthcare Working Group to identify meaningful metrics that can help companies and other stakeholders measure their performance and the impact of the Guiding Principles on improving access to health care.

In addition, because of our leadership in this area, our Principles and key performance indicators informed the global health work of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR) and the recent development of its Statement of Principles and Recommended Corporate Practices to Promote Global Health.

As we strive for continuous improvement in our access approach, we reevaluate our policies, practices and programs, as well as the metrics we employ to measure our progress, on an ongoing basis.

We also have a group dedicated to ensuring access to essential medicines in Africa, called the Institutional Business Africa (IBA) unit. IBA consists of a dedicated team of public health and medical specialists based across sub-Saharan Africa that fosters strategic collaborations and provides policy and technical guidance to countries focused on the areas of family planning and vaccines to achieve sustainable benefits for people and communities across the African continent. IBA is guided by four important principles, represented by the abbreviation PASS:

  • P: Public health outcomes, guided by leading global alliances focused on reproductive health (RHSC, FP2020) and immunizations (GAVI), aligned with country public health goals
  • A: Affordability, focusing on economic levels and optimization of available funding
  • S: Sustainability for countries, ensuring that a long-term perspective is in place for country programs using our products
  • S: Sustainability for our business, ensuring that we can maintain our commitment to long-term partnerships that leverage our innovative products and services

Illustrating the impact of this approach, we embarked on a six-year partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (the Implant Access Program) that makes available IMPLANON® (etonogestrel implant), our one-rod contraceptive implant, and IMPLANON NXT®, at an affordable access price. Since 2013, the number of IMPLANON and IMPLANON NXT implants provided in targeted countries has doubled, bringing greater choice to millions of women in some of the world’s poorest regions. In recognition of the success of the program, in 2015 we announced an extension of the access pricing for an additional five years, to 2023. Additionally, through our in-country partnerships with governments focused on preventing HPV-related cervical cancer and genital warts, we continue to provide access to our vaccine GARDASIL® [Human Papillomavirus Quadrivalent (Types 6, 11, 16,18) Vaccine, Recombinant] through Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.

In addition to these internal mechanisms, we recognized the need to engage more effectively with external stakeholders to better understand their needs in order to expand access to our products and sustain our business over the long term. Throughout 2015, we continued to develop our approach to engaging with key external stakeholders, including international funding organizations, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and those government aid agencies that play active roles in expanding access to medicines for patients through direct operational activities, or through advocacy on issues related to access. Our objective is to enhance our engagement in a way that is consistent with our sustainable access objectives.

Measuring how we’re doing is a challenging but important component of our access strategy, as it enables us, through relevant quantitative indicators, to demonstrate our progress in implementing our Principles and to measure the effectiveness of our efforts.

Various stakeholders are also calling on the global pharmaceutical industry to provide greater transparency regarding the impact of access strategies and initiatives, as well as evidence of how access strategies are integrated into an overall business strategy. In response, we developed and report annually on key performance indicators and articulate the business case for our overall approach, as reflected in our Access to Health Guiding Principles.

There is also a need for relevant industry-specific indicators that will allow comparisons across the industry. One example is the Access to Medicine Index (ATMI), which is issued every two years and which ranked our company #7 in the 2014 Index, scoring above the mean in five of the seven technical components of the Index—General Access to Medicine Management; Pricing, Manufacturing & Distribution; Research & Development; Capacity Building; and Product Donations and Philanthropic Activities. We believe that the ATMI is one mechanism for measuring our efforts to facilitate access to health, but more work is needed to ensure that all indicators are relevant and provide true measures of corporate responsibility access efforts. Toward that end, we remain committed to working with the ATMI and other organizations to develop meaningful measurements for our company and our industry.