Global Healthcare on the Ground: IFPMA Engages Global Bodies to Push Health Efforts Forward

International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations takes global action to improve public health.
Sep 02, 2011
Volume 35, Issue 9

Eduardo Pisani
The complexity of global health concerns requires the engagement of national and regional governments, the private sector, nongovernmental organizations, and other civil-society organizations. For the pharmaceutical industry, this involvement can be through individual companies and collective industry actions. The International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA) is an important instrument of collective participation on global health concerns. IFPMA represents 29 multinational research-based pharmaceutical companies and 45 national industry associations in North America, Western Europe, Japan, Australia, Central and South America, Asia, and Africa. Eduardo Pisani, IFPMA's director general, recently spoke with Pharmaceutical Technology to discuss the association's policy objectives and action plans in global health.

IFPMA's scope of action

"The mission of the IFPMA is to engage with international organizations to build mutual understanding and to find effective and sustainable solutions to major global health issues with a focus on medicine quality, innovation, and access," says Pisani. To that end, IFPMA, based in Geneva, has formal consultative status with the United Nations, UN specialized bodies, including the World Health Organization (WHO), the World Bank, and the World Trade Organization.

Three core areas—quality, innovation, and access—serve as the framework for IFPMA's specific work in global health, which increasingly requires partnerships between the private and public sector. "Nowadays, most of the work accomplished in the global public health arena is collaborative in nature, so multistakeholder partnerships are encouraged," says Pisani, pointing to partnerships in R&D, capacity-building, training, or technology transfer.

He points to the collaborative focus inherent in the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), a set of eight time-bound targets for addressing extreme poverty, hunger and disease, gender equality, education, and environmental sustainability. "MDG Goal 8 specifically mentions the need for cooperation with pharmaceutical companies in the development of a global partnership to provide access to affordable, essential drugs in developing countries," says Pisani. To illustrate IFPMA's role in the MDGs, Pisani noted that IFPMA member companies have approximately 210 projects in place, worth an estimated $9.2 billion that address the health-related MDGs. By 2015, the date set for the MDGs to be realized, if the present trend is maintained, the value of these projects is expected to increase to $20 billion (excluding companies' expenditures on R&D for diseases of the developing world), he adds.

Noncommunicable disease. Noncommunicable diseases, particularly cancer, cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease, and diabetes, are a growing health problem in the developing world. Noncommunicable diseases have become a problem in certain countries as lifestyle choices, such as an unhealthy diet and tobacco use, accompany a rise in the overall standard of living for middle-income countries as the economies of these countries improve.

To address the problem, the UN is holding a first-ever UN General Assembly high-level meeting on noncommunicable diseases this month (September 2011) in New York. IFPMA will be responsible for conveying the research-based pharmaceutical position on chronic diseases. "We believe that the experience in the developed world demonstrates the crucial role of changing risky behaviors and prevention," says Pisani. "We also will be advocating for the effective, multistakeholder strategies at the global, regional, and national levels that are fully integrated into healthcare systems."

In this multistakeholder framework, Pisani says that governments, the research-based pharmaceutical industry, civil society organizations, and health professionals can play a role in increasing education and awareness, improving early detection and disease surveillance, and facilitating implementation of prevention programs.

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