However, only half have extended their preferential prices to go beyond the poorest countries, and just five of the twelve have made licences available to local manufacturers to produce life-saving drugs more cheaply. Three companies have made some public expression of support for the health protections in the international TRIPs agreement on intellectual property.
None of those researched have an upfront policy of not enforcing patents where they could exacerbate health problems and no company has publicly disclosed its lobbying positions on patents. As yet none of them has clearly positioned its access to medicines for the developing world in terms of the human rights model.
Neither do any yet measure the overall effect of their policies on access to medicines, disclose clear targets (including target expenditures on developing world diseases) or articulate a long term business case for addressing these issues.
The HIV / AIDS pandemic has drawn attention to the fact that millions of people do not have access to life-saving medicines, and diseases that disproportionately affect the developing world, such as malaria, may have low priority in research.
“NGOs and concerned shareholders have advocated tackling these issues on a number of fronts – pricing, patents, public-private-partnerships and R&D, ” says Louise Tippett, Senior Research Analyst at EIRIS. “Despite the many examples of good practice, this research shows that the industry as a whole still has some way to go to meet that challenge”