Despite Efforts, Vulnerable Patients Still Face Barriers to Essential Medicines, Says New Report (UPDATED)

Editor's note: This article has been updated with more details from the Access to Medicine Foundation's study. 
Despite significant initiatives by generic drug companies to broaden access to vital medicines, many vulnerable patients remain underserved, according to findings from a new study from the Access to Medicine Foundation. 

Remarkably, of the 50 products examined from five major generic drug firms, only one had a pricing strategy aligned with patients' affordability in low-to-middle-income nations.

The five generic drug makers in the spotlight include Cipla LtdHikma Pharmaceuticals PlcSun Pharmaceutical Industries LtdTeva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd TEVA, and Viatris Inc VTRS

While 41 of these 50 medicines had plans to broaden access, many remained inaccessible for the financially strained and uninsured. 

The report highlighted a silver lining. The drugmakers had a notable impact for the majority of the 102 medicines covered in the analysis and have registered any product in their portfolio across 90 of 108 countries, demonstrating a broad regulatory reach.

For the 10 products assessed per company, the companies have collectively registered in 77 countries.

The study did highlight the declining trend of generic drug prices over the past decade. This fierce competition in pricing even forced two U.S. generic manufacturers into bankruptcy this year

Similarly, Teva Pharmaceutical announced in May its intentions to halt the production of certain less lucrative drugs, Bloomberg noted.

However, there are underlying concerns that companies mainly focusing on wealthier drug markets might neglect the poorer ones, intensifying the availability problem. 

Jayasree Iyer, the foundation's CEO, shed light on the overlooked strength of the generic drug sector, stating, "When it comes to expanding access to medicine, the power of the generics industry is often underestimated. Companies must engage with the unmet medical need globally."

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