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Pharmaceutical Essential Medicines
Donation Programs:
The Growth of Private-Public Partnerships

Health inequalities among the world's wealthiest and poorest countries reflect the types and levels of diseases prevalent in different countries. Diseases such as river blindness, leprosy, and trachoma are endemic in poverty-stricken areas of the world but are virtually unknown in economically developed nations. While other diseases such as AIDS do not distinguish between rich and poor nations, the economies of countries determine who receives treatment and who is left to suffer illness, disability and death.

Health disparities result, in part, from lack of access to essential medicines. Cures that are affordable in developed economies are financially out of reach for those living in impoverished regions. Pharmaceutical companies are under increasing pressure from consumer and citizens to redress this disparity and act quickly to reduce the death and suffering caused by the lack of access to drugs. Pharmaceutical companies have responded to this crisis with various programs designed to alleviate the health problems in developing countries.

The formation of Private - Public Partnerships is a relatively new approach to addressing the problem of access to essential medicines. Private-Public Partnerships can be ventures between one or more for-profit companies and public entities, including not-for-profit organizations such as UNICEF, Ministries of Health of foreign countries, foreign aid organizations such as USAID and DFID and non-governmental organizations such as Helen Keller Worldwide and CARE. These partnerships are formed to bring together the resources, skills, and expertise of the various sectors to improve access to essential medicines.

Buoyed by support from the World Health Organization, the World Bank as well as other factors, Private-Public Partnerships are a relatively new approach to exceedingly complex global health issues. For a comprehensive list and in-depth information about public-private partnerships for health, visit the web site of the Initiative on Public-Private Partnerships for Health.

This section provides an overview of some of the Private-Public Partnerships in which the following pharmaceutical companies are participating:

The information provided in this section is not designed to be exhaustive but to highlight some of the important work being done to improve access to essential medicines by private-public partnerships with pharmaceutical companies as the "private" partner..

At SHARED, we believe that pharmaceutical companies are in a unique position to demonstrate leadership in improving access to essential medicines. As responsible corporate citizens, each pharmaceutical company should and must take steps to give back to communities whether at the local, national or international level. By examining the essential medicine donation programs in operation today, we can compare and contrast the efforts undertaken by some of the world's largest, richest, most powerful and influential for-profit corporations and decide for ourselves if we believe the values demonstrated by each company's actions mirror our own.

We invite you to read about what is being done by some of the US pharmaceutical companies and to encourage these companies to expand their support of global health issues. Please visit the "Take Action" section for specific suggestions on what you can do to improve global health.



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