Benchmarking AIDS - Pharmaceutical Executive


Benchmarking AIDS
Pharma is taking on the global AIDS crisis. But who has crafted the best approach? The Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility defines best practices and matches major companies head-to-head. Grades are posted inside.

Pharmaceutical Executive

Company has obtained registration for all dosages and formulations in all relevant markets. (ICCR gives companies the benefit of the doubt on this topic, and assumes registration except where specific information is available to the contrary.)

Reporting To Shareholders

Company's reporting includes articulation of the business case for action, an assessment of the options for action, systematic reporting of goals and activities, and evidence of board-level leadership. The report also has pricing schemes and timetables for access goals.

Sustainable Philanthropy

Company's philanthropic programs are well integrated into its overall access-to-medicines programs. They are wide-reaching and sustainable. The programs are built into the company's business strategy and reported to shareholders as such. The activities and impacts of the programs are continuously monitored.

Political Engagement

• Political Contributions

The pharmaceutical company reports on all political contributions, providing individual rationales for each candidate and group to whom it contributes. The company has board oversight of political contributions.

• Trade Associations

Company fully discloses its trade association dues and payments to third-party organizations, as well as how those dues are directed. Its dues and payments are consistent with its public position on public-health issues. Or, the company is not a member of a pharmaceutical or other trade organization so does not need to report separately on dues.

[Norvir Stands Alone]

Abbott's lack of collaboration with generic or other branded companies is troubling—particularly because a number of other ARVs must be taken with Norvir. Abbott also takes a hard line against issuing voluntary, non-exclusive licenses—most famously against Brazil—and maintains, "Abbott's HIV patents are not preventing access to HIV treatment in developing countries."

Abbott says it makes its HIV drugs available throughout Africa, but some NGOs have complained that the drugs aren't registered or available in other markets. In particular, MSF China has been contacting Abbott since June 2004 about the "growing and urgent" need for access to second-line drugs, such as Kaletra. To date, Abbott has not yet registered the new, improved, heat-stable version of Kaletra in any developing country, stating that it is first waiting for EU approval. This is a key second-line drug, which Abbott must ensure is universally registered, available, and affordable in adult and pediatric formulations.

As for research, there is an urgent clinical need for a number of products Abbott could provide: improved pediatric formulations (that maintain Abbott's already commendable pediatric pricing), heat-stable Norvir, additional FDCs containing Norvir, and low-cost generic lopinavir+ritonavir.

[No Free Lunch ]

Boehringer-Ingelheim is perhaps best known for its Viramune Donation Program, through which it supplies free nevirapine to treat mother-to-child transmission of AIDS. However, the program remains controversial—critics argue that by giving away the drug for MTCT programs, the company undermines the generic market for nevirapine, complicates procurement systems, and even contributes to stigma by distinguishing between "innocent" newborns and other patients.


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