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Why invest in access?
Assuring acceptance of new medicines
Developing safe, effective antimalarials is vital to curing the disease, but it is not enough. Unless these new drugs are accessible to the vulnerable people who need them, often living in poor rural areas of Africa, people will continue to die. MMV is a strong advocate for the development of high-quality antimalarials and believes that ensuring patient safety means getting stringent regulatory approval for our drugs before they can be widely distributed. This step is critical to bringing about an end to the era of “poor drugs for poor people.”
MMV only invests in the development of medicines that will offer a significant treatment advantage over currently available medicines, and works to assure the timely evaluation of our new medicines for their prompt inclusion in the WHO Standard Treatment Guidelines (STGs) and Essential Medicines List (EML), which are key tools for in-country policy makers as they decide on their malaria protocols. An important part of our work is therefore to ensure that internationally accepted quality standards for medicines become guiding criteria for healthcare decision makers, clinicians and patients alike.
Assuring availability of new medicines
Once a new medicine is adopted at the policy level, making this drug available at the point of patient care is not without challenges. There are significant practical problems of delivering treatment through a fundamentally weak healthcare system. A poor determination of drug requirements, further complicated by weak procurement and distribution systems often lead to incorrect volumes ordered and ‘stock-outs’ of ACTs on the shelves in public sector clinics.
It is therefore widely recognized that between 40–60% of people in sub-Saharan Africa are underserved by public sector healthcare delivery and are forced to purchase antimalarials from the private sector. This, too, presents a predicament. ACTs are not easily available through private sector channels as these are 10-20 times more expensive than the now largely ineffective – but widely available and commonly used – older drugs.
MMV is working with its partners to expand the reach of its drugs through both public and private sectors. In the public sector, partners such as the Ministry of Health are key to better treatment availability. In the private sector, affordability-focused innovations are in place that enable poor patients to obtain MMV’s drugs while providing incentives for the private sector to displace older ineffective drugs with ours.