SEATTLE — An increasing variety of diseases and conditions threaten global health, from AIDS and cancer to diabetes and neglected tropical diseases. By 2050 as many as 10 million people could die in one year, and GDP could decrease by 2 percent solely due to antimicrobial resistance. However, one organization seeks to eradicate all these threats and many more: the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA).
The IFPMA is an organization that represents research-based biopharmaceutical companies and regional and national associations from around the world with the mission of promoting the discovery of and access to vital medicines and vaccines. The IFPMA saves lives every year through facilitation of important communication between the major players in the global health community. Based in “the public health capital of the world,” Geneva, the IFPMA focuses on uniting the major stakeholders in order to encourage innovation, high standards of quality, ethical procedures and sustainable health policies.
Biopharmaceutical companies have invested more than $500 billion in research and development since 2000, and the researchers associated with IFPMA continue to discover life-saving medicines and vaccines. For example, there are more than 40 new medicines in the pipeline that could treat HIV/AIDS and 3,073 projects that intend to fight cancer.
The IFPMA especially focuses on increasing access to the life-enhancing medicines coming from the biopharmaceutical companies in low and middle-income countries. For example, the IFPMA has identified creation of conditions that facilitate the transfer of technology from originators to new users as a vital step to enhance the obtainment of knowledge, experience, and equipment necessary for advanced processes in low and middle-income countries. The IFPMA has helped to implement such conditions by making policy recommendations to national and international institutions in developing countries.
Another way that the IFPMA saves lives in developing countries is by participating in more than 40 partnerships that attempt to strengthen capacity in developing economies. Specifically, these projects work to improve local health systems, provide safe water and sanitation, and increase public awareness around disease prevention.
The IFPMA not only helps relieve global health issues, but also it contributes to the prosperity of the world economy. The industry is very active in production and research and development and creates jobs in both developed and developing countries. For example, in 2012, the biopharmaceutical industry employed around 4.4 million people across the world.
This year, the IFPMA saves lives from two major global health threats: antimicrobial resistance and neglected tropical diseases. Antimicrobial resistance is a growing and serious threat because without effective treatments, like antibiotics, even common illnesses could become dangerous. The IFPMA launched the AMR Industry Alliance that ideally will foster industry progress towards curtailing antimicrobial resistance by creating a reporting mechanism to help assess key obstacles.
Finally, the IFPMA also is tackling the issue of neglected tropical diseases that especially cripple emerging economies. Neglected tropical diseases affect one person in seven. In 2012, the IFPMA member companies promised to donate 14 billion treatments to control or eradicate the ten neglected tropical diseases that constituted more than 90 percent of the total global burden over 10 years, and so far the companies have kept their promise. Collaborative efforts from universities and public and private sector institutes make up 109 active research and development projects as well.
– Lauren Mcbride