Novartis Launches an Affordable Medicines Initiative for Lower Income Countries

Novartis Launches an Affordable Medicines Initiative for Lower Income Countries

The global pharmaceutical developer, Novartis, announced their program – Novartis Access – which proposes to provide 15 medications to treat chronic conditions, at a lower cost to patients in low income countries. The suite of medications – which cover diabetes, respiratory diseases, cardiovascular diseases and breast cancer – will be made available to healthcare providers in the public sector, for just 1 USD per treatment, per month.

Joerg Reinhardt, Chairman of the Board for Novartis, said in a press release, “Novartis Access is a natural extension of two important contributions our company makes to society: developing innovative medicines that help people fight disease and working to get them to as many people as possible. This program takes a novel approach to addressing the rising tide of chronic diseases in parts of the world where people often have limited access to healthcare. We know we will need to keep an open mindset and learn as we progress on this journey.”

The program – which includes both generic and patented medications – will be initially launched in Kenya, Vietnam and Ethiopia. Depending on demand for the affordable drugs, Novartis plans to expand the program over the next few years, to as many as 30 countries.

The products available via Novartis Access are among the most prescribed medications in the low income countries. They were also chosen based on their inclusion on the World Health Organization’s Essential Medicines List.

According to the company, this program is expected to be sustainable in the future, ensuring that the regions participating in the program will receive uninterrupted support. Novartis has decided to launch the program alongside the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit 2015.

It’s estimated that 28 million people die from noncommunicable, chronic conditions each year, in low and middle income countries. This number represents 75 percent of all deaths from these conditions globally.

Novartis plans to partner with governments – as well as non-government organizations – in order to meet the growing demand for medications to treat chronic conditions. Novartis Access also includes a local healthcare strengthening component, in which the company hopes to provide training to healthcare workers for disease diagnosis and treatment, as well as raise awareness about chronic illnesses.

Novartis is not the only company to provide affordable pharmaceuticals to struggling nations; GlaxoSmithKline recently announced they plan to offer a considerable discount on their newly-developed malaria vaccine. The vaccine is the first of its kind, and the pharma giant will be selling the product at a 5 percent markup from the cost of manufacturing. They also plan on using the revenue to further R&D for malaria treatment and prevention.