Eck Institute for Global Health hosts "Access to Affordable Medicines" panel

Last month, the Eck Institute for Global Health (EIGH) hosted an expert panel to discuss and explore the barriers and opportunities related to access to affordable medicines. The panel featured Fran Quigley, JD, director of the Health and Human Rights Clinic at Indiana University McKinney School of Law, Bart Peterson, JD, Chair of the IU Center for Global Health/AMPATH Development Board, and Dr. Bob Ripley, PharmD, Chief Pharmacy Officer at Trinity Health. The panel was a timely event in light of the publication of “Making Medicines Affordable: A National Imperative” by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine in November 2017. 

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The event expanded on a lecture given last fall by Fran Quigley, also hosted by the EIGH. In that lecture, Quigley explored the challenge of ensuring both robust development of new medicines and access to medicines for those in need—a challenge present in the US and around the world. He also emphasized the role of advocacy to hold public and private institutions accountable to the needs of patients, reinforcing the moral and social justice imperative for medicines to be accessible to all. 

The panelists discussed the problems plaguing the underinsured and the uninsured, and the reality of individuals forced to pay the list price for prescription drugs. The panel addressed the overall tension and complexity in finding solutions to the problem but urged the audience not to be dismayed by the obstacles and instead imparted a sense of urgency and hope. The panelists explained the triad existing between insurance companies, pharmacy benefit managers, and pharmaceutical companies, and ways in which these entities could all work collaboratively to lower costs. 

Each panelist provided the audience concrete solutions that included restructuring the patent system, creating an effective fair pricing system from a value based system, and bringing more competition to the market through expanded generic drug availability.  

A lively Q & A driven by global health students and faculty rounded out the symposium. 

The Eck Institute for Global Health is a university-wide enterprise that recognizes health as a fundamental human right and endeavors to promote research, training, service to advance health standards for all people, especially people in low and middle-income countries, who are disproportionately impacted by preventable diseases. For more information about Notre Dame’s Master of Science in Global Health degree program, visit: here.