Driving mainstream business
Our mainstream business will continue to focus on those people for whom healthcare is readily available and who can afford our medicines.
AstraZeneca’s contribution to better health is founded on the research, development, manufacturing and commercialization of innovative medicines that make a real difference for hundreds of millions of patients through the treatment of serious diseases: cancer, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, infection, neuroscience and respiratory. Sales of these medicines in our established markets helps us to generate the revenue we need to provide our shareholders with a return, invest in continued innovation and identify other opportunities to expand the availability of our medicines.
Pricing our medicines
Our global pricing policy provides the framework to ensure appropriate patient access while optimising the profitability of all our products in a sustainable way. When setting the price of a medicine, we take into consideration its full value to patients, to those who pay for healthcare and to society in general. We also pursue a flexible approach to the pricing of our medicines. We support the concept of differential pricing, provided that safeguards are in place to ensure that differentially priced products are not diverted from patients who need them to be sold and used in more affluent markets.
Our medicines play an important role in treating unmet medical need. In doing so, they bring economic as well as therapeutic benefits. Effective treatments can help to lower healthcare costs by reducing the need for more expensive care, such as hospital stays or surgery, or through preventing patients from developing more serious or debilitating diseases that are costly to treat. They also contribute to increased productivity by reducing or preventing the incidence of diseases that keep people away from work.
The growing demand for healthcare means there is continued downward pressure on drug pricing and, in the current difficult economic environment, payers expect us to be able to define the value our medicines create. We are acutely aware of the challenges facing those who pay for healthcare and are committed to delivering value which will allow us to bring our valuable medicines to the patients that need them. We therefore work with payers and healthcare providers to understand their priorities and requirements, and generate evidence regarding how our products offer value and support cost-effective healthcare delivery.
Intellectual property protection
The path to a new medicine is a long, complex, expensive and risky process. It can take more than 10 years and typically we invest over $1 billion before the first dollar of sales is realized. For this to be a viable investment new medicines must be safeguarded from being copied with a reasonable amount of certainty for a reasonable period of time.
The principal economic safeguard in our industry is a well-functioning patent system that recognises our effort and rewards our innovation with appropriate protection, allowing time to generate the revenue we need to reinvest in new pharmaceutical innovation.
Patent rights are limited by territory and duration, typically 20 years from filing date, yet a significant amount of this time can be spent on R&D and before product launch. We therefore commit subsantial resources to establishing and defending our patent and related IP protections for these inventions.
Compulsory licensing (the overruling of patent rights to allow patented medicines to be manufactured by other parties) is increasingly being included in the access to medicines debate. We recognise the right of developing countries to use the flexibilities in the World Trade Organization’s TRIPS (Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) agreement (including the Doha amendment) in certain limited circumstances, such as a public health emergency. We believe that this should apply only when all other ways of meeting the emergency needs have been considered and where healthcare frameworks and safeguards to prevent diversion are in place to ensure that the medicines reach those who need them.
What's next in this section
As we expand our business in new geographies, we are exploring broad market strategies to reach new patients.Read more
Strengthening healthcare capabilities
For people in communities with limited healthcare infrastructure we partner with others to help strengthen healthcare frameworks.Read more