Tailored strategy to reach more patients in sub-Saharan Africa
Novartis is the only company to explicitly tailor an access-to-medicine strategy to countries facing a high burden of disease.
Various high-burden diseases; innovative medicines
Embedding a comprehensive access-to-medicine strategy into the overall strategy
To expand access for underserved communities in sub-Saharan Africa
Novartis is the only company in scope of the Index to explicitly tailor an access-to-medicine strategy to countries facing a high burden of disease. In fact, it commits itself to expanding access to innovative medicines in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), a part of the world it highlights as being home to the largest underserved patient population.
Why is SSA important?
While a quarter of the world’s disease burden is in Africa, just 3% of health workers are based there and the entire continent accounts for less than 1% of the world’s health expenditure.* In terms of access to medicine, there are continent-wide gaps to address, but SSA faces a particularly high burden of disease.
To increase access to innovative medicines across its portfolio for these patients, Novartis launched a new strategy in November 2019. Novartis will build on its established activities to treat diseases in scope of the Index, including malaria, cancer, sickle cell disease and cardiovascular conditions. With established social business models in Africa, aligned with the Novartis Principles, the company highlights its choice to move away from financial metrics to focus more on what can drive access to innovative medicines and strengthen health systems across the region. A new SSA business unit will look at tiered pricing models, affordability strategies, scaling social business models and competitiveness in tenders, with the aim of increasing inclusivity and extending the ability of patients across the income spectrum to access Novartis’s products.
For Novartis, innovative medicines include both newly approved products and those defined as novel (where novel biologic molecules or new technologies are used in clinical trials, for example). Under the strategy, which is overseen at board committee level and with no time limit, the company notes it will work to increase access by improving technologies. It will also boost trial capabilities and accelerate regulatory and administrative processes to lessen time elapsed between development, approval and availability of new medicines. Through its Access Principles it seeks to integrate all access strategies systematically, from research through to global delivery.
In aspiring to be a partner of choice for governments and NGOs, helping to strengthen healthcare systems for the long term, Novartis is also deploying new technologies to provide the benefits of innovation to SSA countries. Recently, for example, it became part of a public-private partnership with the government of Ghana and Sickle Cell Foundation of Ghana to address sickle cell disease.