Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as diabetes, cancer and heart disease are placing an increasing burden on patients, health care systems and economies not only in developed countries but also in middle and low income countries. According to the NCD Alliance, NCDs account for 60 percent (35 million) of global deaths worldwide. The largest burden – 80 percent (28 million) – occurs in low- to middle-income countries, making NCDs a major cause of poverty.
The innovative biopharmaceutical industry has an important role to play in critical public health challenges, including NCDs. The most important industry role is research and development of new medicines and delivering information about those medicines to inform decision making by physicians, patients and payers and to support appropriate and effective use of medicines.
Too many governments in both the developed and the developing world do not provide sufficient financial resources or regulatory governance over their health care systems. Philanthropic efforts may provide immediate relief to individuals suffering from NCDs; however, solely philanthropic efforts are unsustainable and may perpetuate poor outcomes for broad populations.
Lilly supports a policy environment that enables company-driven commercial solutions to issues associated with NCDs. While a shift from absolute philanthropic efforts to absolute commercial solutions is not realistic, opportunities to test commercial options that are targeted to the needs of a population should be supported. There can be no access to medicines that are not invented and developed. Lilly believes that any solution to the problems created by the burden of NCDs must recognize that the global intellectual property system has provided a foundation for investment in research and development of innovative medicines.
Across countries of all development levels, prevention will become increasingly important to combat NCDs. Prevention is a role primarily of governments through public health programs and through regulatory pathways for approval of prevention medicines.