Some Admirable Drug Companies Do A Lot for the Poor

In every presidential election certain industries and segments of society reliably get tainted as bad guys: coal, oil, banks, Wall Street. Fairly or unfairly (we’ll forgo the well-vetted pros and cons talking points—the election’s over) they are targeted as greedy and unfeeling. Health insurers and pharmaceutical companies take their share of hits.

Pharmaceutical companies looked warily upon the Access to Medicine Index when it was first introduced in 2008, reports the New York Times. The list ranks companies in terms of their efforts to get their life-enhancing and/or life-saving products to poor people around the world. Many companies did not offer requested information. Now, almost all pharmaceutical companies participate.

GSK ranks first this year, as it has since 2008. Johnson & Johnson has risen to number two, followed by Novartis and the American and European versions of Merck, once two separate divisions, but now two separate companies.  

The New York Times: “The list’s companies collectively have 850 products that treat 51 diseases that burden poor and middle-income countries, said Jayasree K. Iyer, the executive director of the Access to Medicine Foundation, which produces the list. The drug companies are developing another 420 products, often in partnerships with smaller companies in India or elsewhere.

Source: New York Times