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Best Practices voor een duurzame toekomst
15 december 2007

Dutch initiative: Major investors sign up to Access to Medicine Index

The signatories to the Investor Statement are Bank Sarasin, CIS Cooperative Insurance, Ethos, F&C, Henderson Global Investors, CCR Access to Health Care Working Group, Morley, Schroders, SNS Asset Management and USS, with a total capital investment of more than EUR 900 billion.

The independent Access to Medicine Index is a global initiative aimed at improving access to medicine worldwide, especially for so called neglected diseases like tuberculosis, HIV/aids, diarrhoeal diseases, measles and malaria. Its main purpose is to raise awareness on access to drugs across the board, improve collaboration between stakeholders and facilitate equity and debt investment decision making for the investment community. The index will be used by stakeholders as an objective, rational, yet aspirational framework for benchmarking companies in the management of accessible medicines.

The index is an initiative of the Access to Medicine foundation, which was launched in 2005 by Wim Leereveld in Haarlem. In the eighties Leereveld was founder and general manager of Walsh International and Pharmaceutical Marketing Services Inc (PMSI) and general manager of Walsh Netherlands. His world view was shaken by the events of September 11. "I became increasingly preoccupied with the immense gulf separating rich and poor," he explains. "I discovered that NGOs and governments were struggling with the pharmaceutical industry's attitude to the developing world. It seemed that the world had tarred the entire pharmaceutical sector with one brush, which was not very encouraging." To try and change this perception, Leereveld gathered together well-informed and interested partners like Rabobank, SNS Reaal, the Dutch Directorate-general for International Cooperation (DGIS), the British Department for International Development (DFID) and a syndicate of Dutch development NGOs and commissioned the recognized American research firm Innovest to collect all necessary data. Leereveld: "The investors and the pharma companies were quite willing to exchange and share their information."

Over the course of three consultation periods between the industry and its stakeholders, an elaborate set of criteria, indicators, metrics and weightings was developed that make up the framework that will be used to assess pharmaceutical companies' performance with regard to accessible medicines.

The index serves the interest of industry, investors and the NGO community, says Leereveld. "The investors are investing in an industry that runs the risk of being damaged by its bad image in developing countries. This was particularly so in the past, when the pharmaceutical industry was not pro-active. On the other side the developing world is an opportunity for the pharma sector. Generally speaking, if the ranking of a company on our index is satisfactory, it means that its management is okay. That makes it an attractive company in the eyes of investors."

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