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Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) now account for the majority of global morbidity and mortality and are increasingly affecting developing countries whose under-resourced health care systems also have to handle a high burden of infectious disease. To counter the global devastation caused by NCDs, the United Nations General Assembly decided to "set a new global agenda" and is convening a high-level meeting on NCDs in September 2011. In connection with this meeting, the authors of this paper took a first step toward developing a policy research agenda for improving access to NCD medicines in developing countries, a step that the research-based pharmaceutical industry, in particular, can carry forward as part of broader global efforts to combat NCD. The authors provide a framework for understanding the obstacles to access for NCD medicines, review specific issues to be confronted within each obstacle in the developing world, identify promising ideas for improving access to NCD medicines, and point to several highly promising areas for the research-based pharmaceutical industry to focus on as it develops its NCD policy research program in close collaboration with other key stakeholders.

The research described in this report was sponsored by the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations and was conducted in RAND Health, a division of the RAND Corporation.

This report is part of the RAND occasional paper series. RAND occasional papers may include an informed perspective on a timely policy issue, a discussion of new research methodologies, essays, a paper presented at a conference, or a summary of work in progress. All RAND occasional papers undergo rigorous peer review to help ensure that they meet high standards for research quality and objectivity.

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