Margaret Ewen, Dip.Pharm


Twitter: @HAImedicines

Marg is a New Zealander (or ‘kiwi’ as they are commonly known), a pharmacist, and for the last 15 years or so, has worked at Health Action International (HAI) in Amsterdam.

Since 2001, Marg has co-coordinated the WHO/HAI Project on Medicine Prices and Availability and provided technical assistance to over 100 surveys, in all regions of the world, that have used the WHO/HAI survey tool. She developed the WHO/HAI price database which continues to be updated as new surveys are completed. As well, Marg coordinated the development of a series of pricing policy reviews and has worked with a number of countries, particularly in the Middle East, to develop policies to improve medicine availability and affordability. More recently Marg developed a tool for comparing the price and availability of locally produced and imported medicines. The tool is likely to be available in August/September 2016, and hopefully will be as well used as the WHO/HAI survey tool.

Marg is also interested in drug promotion and in 2002/3 led a campaign in Europe against relaxing the ban on direct-to-consumer advertising of prescription medicines.  Because of the victory, and more recent re-emergence of the issue, Europeans don’t have to tolerate the ads for prescription medicines seen on US television.

Marg is now working on a study with David Beran (University of Geneva), Richard Laing (Boston University School of Public Health) and a large group of international experts (some of whom are Lancet EMP Commissioners) to improve access to insulin. The three-year study, Addressing the Challenges and Constraints on Insulin Sources and Supply (ACCISS), was launched in January 2015. In the first year the insulin market was mapped from various angles (market issues, trade in insulin, prices, patents on insulin, and tariffs and taxes). In 2016 the focus is on biosimilar insulin manufacturers, in particular the barriers to expanding their market reach. Next year all the findings will be reviewed and interventions developed to improve access to this life-saving medicine.

While Marg loves her work, she also loves rugby (especially when NZ beats South Africa and Oz!), seeing new places, drinking tea in the sunshine, and Christmas. And she is desperately trying to finish her PhD at VU University.

Selected publications of interest:
Ewen M, Zweekhorst M, Regeer B, Laing R. Baseline assessment of WHO’s target for both availability and affordability of medicines to treat non-communicable diseasesAccepted for publication by the Bulletin of the WHO.

Beran D, Ewen M, Laing R. Constraints and challenges in access to insulin: a global perspective. Lancet Diabetes Endocrinol 2016 Published Online February 5, 2016

Ewen M, Joosse H-J, Ashigbie P, Beran D, Laing R. Insulin Prices Profile. Amsterdam: Health Action International, 2016.