Over the last two decades, the prevalence of non-communicable diseases globally has increased substantially for a variety of reasons, including population aging and increased exposure to risk factors such as tobacco use, harmful use of alcohol, physical inactivity, and unhealthy diets. Globalization and rapid urbanization have accelerated the exposure to these risk factors. The costs of NCDs are not limited to patients; these diseases are increasingly a burden on developing economies, affecting people in the prime of their lives.

Treatment of NCDs and prevention of complications largely depends on medication. However, health systems in most developing countries have been geared towards treatment of acute rather than chronic diseases. These countries now face tremendous challenges in managing the growing NCD burden.

At the global level, stakeholders have signaled their commitment in jointly confronting the growing burden of NCDs. In September 2015, government representatives and heads of states met at the United Nations in New York to approve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Goal 3 focuses on health: “Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.”

Many leading biopharmaceutical companies actively support the achievement of SDG 3 and NCD-related targets through their own Access programs. Companies also frequently work with non-industry partners (e.g., the World Bank or the UICC) to expand access to essential NCD medicines.

Despite this trend toward collaborative approaches to address NCDs, there is no common framework for evaluating NCD Access programs. Only with a standard set of metrics for tracking and evaluating programs can biopharmaceutical companies identify important program design features and pinpoint factors driving successful program implementation in different contexts. With this information, companies and their partners can make better decisions about how to target resources to achieve equitable and sustainable access to NCD medicines leading to better health for people in developing countries.

Boston University researchers will develop and apply a Metrics Framework to support the Access Accelerated initiative in measuring achievements and identifying opportunities to improve NCD Access programs.