While global players are more aware of health equity problems across the world, there are still lingering problems, according to Access to Medicine Foundation CEO Jayasree Iyer.

Speaking at the panel discussion ‘Health Equity – How Can Pharma Make a Difference?’ on the last day of the FT Global Pharma and Biotech Summit in London, UK, Iyer highlighted that commercial and access incentives need to be put together to improve health equity.

Seyda Atadan Memis, general manager of the UK and Ireland at Takeda, noted that while focusing on patients and building trust is crucial, it is also important to address affordability questions in each country.

Memis also said that health equity goes along with ethical considerations inside clinical trials. Takeda has translated its clinical trial guidelines into multiple languages for potential participants and caregivers to improve diversity and representation.

Clinical Trials Arena has previously reported on the importance of including patients from racially diverse backgrounds, improving female representation in early-stage studies, and the inclusion of the pregnant population and patients with cognitive disabilities.

Even though data plays a crucial role in the drug development process, it may also affect diversity. Liz Hampson, executive director of Europe at Deloitte Health Equity Institute, explained that biased data used to pick which products should enter clinical trials will influence what cohorts are enrolled into trials.

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While social movements such as Black Lives Matter and #MeToo brought attention to the lack of racial and sex diversity in healthcare, it is still difficult to put success measures in businesses, said Hampson. Also, the pharma industry needs to improve upon the public’s trust because otherwise, they will not join the research, Iyer added.

Along with health equity and global access issues, there are lingering clouds over innovation, said Fred Roeder, managing director of Consumer Choice Center. He explained that the US Inflation Reduction Act and EU pharmaceutical legislation are posing risks in their respective regions. While reduction or price will bring small victories, it may jeopardise innovation.

The reform of the EU pharma legislation has been a topic in multiple panels across the duration of the FT Pharma & Biotech Summit. On the second day, Nathalie Moll, the director general of the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA), called for action to put Europe back on the map as investment drops.