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Health Action International (HAI) was founded by a group of medicine policy experts in 1981 to counter the rapidly increasing influence of the pharmaceutical industry. Our Foundation was established under the umbrella of Consumers International. Shortly after, the Asia-Pacific and Latin America regions joined HAI as registered networks in their own right. HAI Africa followed in 1997, expanding the network’s geographic reach and expertise, which still thrives today.
Our early work focused on exposing specific ‘problem drugs’. Over time, we broadened our focus to address the root causes of ‘problem drugs’ in the market—poor government policy and dubious pharmaceutical industry business practices. In the 1990s, we gained notoriety for exposing the harmful impact of mark-ups on medicine availability. Then, in 2001, we led a successful campaign to prevent direct-to-consumer advertising of prescription-only medicines in Europe.
Today, we continue to advance our reputation as a significant and unwavering force for medicines advocacy. More than 30 years on, it has grown into a vast network of organisations, academics, healthcare professionals and policymakers in more than 70 countries worldwide. Our staff and network have changed with time, but have grown in capacity, standing and professionalism. And our commitment to improving access to medicines and responsible medicine use is more firmly positioned within current global health priorities, like communicable and infectious diseases, neglected tropical diseases and antibiotic resistance.