Novartis reveals plans for a zero-profit COVID-19 drugs portfolio


Novartis, a global pharmaceutical company, includes Ethiopia in the new zero profit initiative for medicines to treat major symptoms of COVID-19.
The Switzerland based company which is well known in its pro poor initiatives, on July 16 has announced that countries that are low income and lower middle income will access the medicines with zero profit to treat those who are affected by COVID 19, a global pandemic that killed over half million people including about 180 in Ethiopia.
In its statement the company sent to Capital indicated that the new initiative aims to help patients in low-income and lower-middle-income countries access affordable medicines to treat the major symptoms of COVID-19, a critical need in the absence of a vaccine or curative treatment.
The Novartis COVID-19 portfolio includes 15 medicines from its Sandoz division for gastro-intestinal illness, acute respiratory symptoms, pneumonia as well as septic shock. The medicines were chosen based on clinical relevance and availability to ensure demand can be met globally.
According to the statement, the medicines will be made available to governments, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and other institutional customers in up to 79 eligible countries at zero-profit to support financially-strained healthcare systems.
“Countries will have the flexibility to select the medicines in the portfolio that meet their healthcare needs,” it said.
Experts said that the initiative may help low income countries to access relevant treatment medicines with lower price to combat the pandemic effect.
“Access to medicine can be a challenge for patients in low- and lower-middle-income countries and the situation has worsened during COVID-19. With our COVID-19 portfolio, we wish to help address the additional healthcare demands of the pandemic in the countries we are targeting,” said Dr Lutz Hegemann, Chief Operating Officer for Global Health at Novartis.
“This initiative builds on our earlier global commitment to keep prices stable for a basket of essential drugs used to treating COVID-19 patients,” says Sandoz CEO Richard Saynor. “The COVID-19 Response Portfolio for low-income and lower-middle-income countries is designed to support governments in treating COVID-19 symptoms before they lead to complications in patients.”
The medicines included in the Novartis COVID-19 response portfolio are Amoxicillin, Ceftriaxone, Clarithromycin, Colchicine, Dexamethasone, Dobutamine, Fluconazole, Heparin, Levofloxacin, Loperamide, Pantoprazole, Prednisone, Prednisolone, Salbutamol, Vancomycin.
The portfolio will be offered in addition to the Novartis Access portfolio (on- and off-patent medicines against key non-communicable diseases) via the local Novartis or Sandoz affiliate.
This global pandemic has placed extreme pressure on healthcare systems in low- and lower-income countries. The pandemic response portfolio complements the previously launched Novartis COVID-19 Response Fund to support healthcare workers and communities in over 50 projects around the world.
The COVID-19 medicines portfolio is Novartis latest contribution to the global effort to combat the pandemic and support the stability of global healthcare systems. The company has committed to donating USD 40 million to support communities around the world impacted by the pandemic.