Overcoming Obstacles To Enable Access To Medicines For Noncommunicable Diseases In Poor Countries.


The modern access-to-medicines movement grew largely out of the civil-society reaction to the HIV/AIDS pandemic three decades ago. While the movement was successful with regard to HIV/AIDS medications, the increasingly urgent challenge to address access to medicines for noncommunicable diseases has lagged behind-and, in some cases, has been forgotten. In this article we first ask what causes the access gap with respect to lifesaving essential noncommunicable disease medicines and then what can be done to close the gap. Using the example of the push for access to antiretrovirals for HIV/AIDS patients for comparison, we highlight the problems of inadequate global financing and procurement for noncommunicable disease medications, intellectual property barriers and concerns raised by the pharmaceutical industry, and challenges to building stronger civil-society organizations and a patient and humanitarian response from the bottom up to demand treatment. We provide targeted policy recommendations, specific to the public sector, the private sector, and civil society, with the goal of improving access to noncommunicable disease medications globally.