What role do pharmacists play in MSF and the Access Campaign?
Our main role is to ensure people being treated in MSF projects get quality medicines and vaccines, regardless of what country they live in. This might mean supporting our supply centres to source quality-assured medicines, or negotiating with companies to make their medicines available and affordable in low-income countries.
One of your areas of focus is Hepatitis C virus (HCV). Why has access to HCV drugs been so difficult, and how did your work lead to price drops?
The challenge in accessing HCV treatment has mainly been around price. Before, we only had access to the HCV drugs from Gilead and Bristol-Myers Squibb, which cost almost US$2,000 per treatment in developing countries – meaning MSF could not really scale up treatment. We were able to work with several generic-drug companies in Egypt and India to do inspections and validate the quality of their medicines and saw the price drop to $120 per treatment.
What do you hope for the access-to-medicines movement in the next 20 years?
I hope there is no need for an access-to-medicines movement in 20 years! While I love my job, at the same time, I find it quite sad to have to do the work that we do. So, I hope we find ways to make governments and corporations accountable and ensure access and R&D that addresses the real needs of people – and that we have worked ourselves out of a job.