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.