Everyone, Regardless of Race, Ethnicity, or Their Zip Code, Should Have Equitable Access to Health Care and Prescription Medicines

Biopharmaceutical companies are advocating for change: prioritizing heath equity and focusing policies that break down barriers to medicine access. Our industry is working with patient community groups and policymakers to improve health outcomes by addressing affordability and social determinants of health.

PhRMA Awards $400k in CAREs Grants Addressing Health Inequities

Graphic depicting a pair of hands holding a dollar sign, with the text "$400k awarded to date, awarded 7 grants"

PhRMA established the Collaborative Actions to Reach Equity (CAREs) grants to provide funding opportunities for community-based efforts to drive meaningful change on the ground to advance health equity.

The CAREs grant program supports solutions that promote access and better health outcomes by removing economic, social, and other barriers to medicine.

Learn about our grants for practical interventions to address health inequalities.

Talking About Health Equity

Structural racism continues to have a devastating impact on health and health outcomes in communities of color. The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored that this reality persists today.


Awareness through frank conversations is the first of many steps needed to influence change.

“Reducing health inequities is important because health is a fundamental human right and its progressive realization will eliminate inequalities that result from differences in health status (such as disease or disability) in the opportunity to enjoy life and pursue one's life plans.”
-World Health Organization

PhRMA supports public policy changes in three key areas to promote equal opportunities for good health through equitable access to affordable medicines, as well as enhanced data capabilities to measure challenges and progress.

Affordability

Many patients in the U.S., including those with health insurance, face high out-of-pocket costs for their medicines. For disadvantaged communities, the eroding value of health insurance limits access to providers and needed services, further widening disparities in health outcomes. 

We’re committed to advancing the following patient-centered policy solutions to help make medicines more affordable.

  • Allow patients to benefit directly from the savings and discounts manufacturers provide to health insurers and pharmacy benefit managers.
  • Cover certain medicines from day one, instead of requiring patients to meet a deductible first
  • Ensure manufacturer cost-sharing assistance counts towards plan deductibles and out-of-pocket maximums to prevent health insurers from penalizing individuals in need
  • Improve coverage in Medicare Part D by lowering cost sharing, capping annual out-of-pocket costs, and spreading cost sharing across the year
  • Ensure low-income uninsured patients benefit from the 340B discount program through a sliding fee scale

Adherence

Timely access to medicines is critical to the successful management of acute conditions and chronic disease. However, underserved populations are more likely to face barriers to medication access and adherence and, as a result, have difficulty obtaining prescriptions and managing medicines. Improving affordability is one part of the solution, but we must also address inequities rooted in community-level factors like lack of access to care and systemic racism or discrimination.

We’re committed to addressing the social determinants that impact diagnosis, treatment, and adherence by supporting the following policy solutions to improve medication access for all.

  • Dedicate funding to evaluate and address the impact of social determinants of health on access to medication, screenings, and diagnosis 
  • Increase participation in existing programs that aim to improve access and adherence to medicines among eligible individuals, such as the Medicare Part D Low-Income Subsidy, for which millions of eligible, low-income seniors are not enrolled
  • Strengthen federal programs targeting improvements in medication adherence, including the Medicare Part D Star Ratings and medication therapy management program, to ensure eligibility criteria and service offerings do not exclude communities of color.

Data Gaps

Improvements to data collection, management, and reporting processes are needed to provide a more comprehensive picture of how diseases and medicines affect diverse, and particularly underserved, populations. Improving data collection and reporting at the local, state, and tribal levels is critical to identifying and addressing health inequities. 

We stand ready to work with all stakeholders to improve collection of health equity data, and support the following policies:

  • The adoption of national standards to improve data collection and reporting for state public health systems, to represent racial and ethnic diversity in a manner consistent with ethical and legal requirements. 
  • Encourage public reporting on disparities in prescription and use of medicines and screening for diseases by race, ethnicity, and other important factors in public programs.
  • Promote generation of post-market clinically relevant data on how diseases and medicines affect diverse populations in the real world

Voices from Our Blog

Systemic racism is as real as any disease and our industry is not immune
By Courtney Christian
A photograph of Courtney Christian, a Senior Director of Policy and Research at PhRMA
A photograph of Courtney Christian, a Senior Director of Policy and Research at PhRMA
Systemic racism is as real as any disease and our industry is not immune
By Courtney Christian

PhRMA published our commitment to racial equity and inclusion in the New York Times as well as in DC-based, Black-owned newspapers the Informer and the AfroAmerican. This public declaration is an important milestone for our industry as we continue to take concrete steps to address systemic racism and work towards a more equitable future…

A collage image showing screenshots from a video call between Stephen Ubl and Vas Narasimhan
Strengthening a culture dedicated to patients and equity: A conversation with Vas Narasimhan, CEO of Novartis
By Stephen J. Ubl
This year our industry has been working around the clock to combat the COVID-19 virus, including developing effective therapeutics to treat COVID-19 and vaccines to prevent future infections. Outside of the novel coronavirus, major social issues have been brought to the forefront of public discourse. We understand that systematic racism is as real as any disease and...
Emily Donaldson
Addressing data challenges to improve health equity
By Emily Donaldson
The COVID-19 pandemic has shed light on the ways that systemic racism pervades nearly every facet of life – especially within our health care system. The biopharmaceutical industry is dedicated to tackling these issues head-on and addressing health disparities that disproportionately affect communities of color and other underserved communities.
PhRMA will continue to advocate for equity within our industry
By Yolanda Hutchins

When I first started at PhRMA two and a half years ago, our organization was just starting to talk about how we could increase and activate our commitment to diversity & inclusion (D&I). As senior director of talent acquisition, some of my first tasks were to build an inhouse recruiting team and develop a D&I strategy for the organization…

Three ways the pharmaceutical industry can positively impact health equity
By Dr. Charlotte Jones-Burton

“Creating a trusted partnership between the biopharmaceutical industry and communities of color will not happen overnight. It will take a sustained commitment to establish meaningful relationships that move us from health disparity to health equity.

I urge you to follow the progress at PhRMA.org/Equity.”

A photograph of Courtney Christian, a Senior Director of Policy and Research at PhRMA
Systemic racism is as real as any disease and our industry is not immune
By Courtney Christian

PhRMA published our commitment to racial equity and inclusion in the New York Times as well as in DC-based, Black-owned newspapers the Informer and the AfroAmerican. This public declaration is an important milestone for our industry as we continue to take concrete steps to address systemic racism and work towards a more equitable future…