Novartis Access

The menace of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) like cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and cancer in the developing world is increasing. These conditions disproportionally affect poverty-stricken areas. Already today 28 million people die each year from these types of diseases in low- and middle-income countries – representing nearly 75% of deaths from NCDs globally.

Dr Chang as Xinh, waits for patients at the community hospital in Mu Cang Chai, rural Vietnam.


Confronting the global spread of chronic disease

Combined with the existing challenge of managing infectious diseases, these countries are now confronted by a double disease burden. Because chronic illnesses require early detection and long-term, ongoing treatment, society needs new ways to ensure access to medicines for NCDs in countries where people often have limited access to healthcare.

Against this background, we launched Novartis Access. The program focuses on affordability and availability of 15 patented and generic medicines addressing four key NCDs ­– cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, respiratory illnesses and breast cancer.

The initial portfolio will include products from Novartis Pharmaceuticals and Sandoz. These products have been selected based on the World Health Organization’s Model List of Essential Medicines1 and are among the most commonly prescribed medicines2 in the countries the program targets.

A first in the industry, the portfolio is offered as a basket to governments, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and other public-sector healthcare providers at a price of USD 1 per treatment per month. We are also actively seeking to partner with these players to strengthen healthcare systems. Areas of potential collaboration include programs to raise awareness about diseases, train healthcare workers to diagnose and treat chronic illnesses and strengthen medicine distribution systems.

What do you know about noncommunicable diseases?

Self-sustaining social business

Novartis Access has been set up to be commercially sustainable over the long term, enabling continuous support for patients in these regions. The governments, NGOs and other stakeholders we consulted during the planning phase underlined the importance of a long-term perspective to fight chronic diseases; they stressed that while donations are important, they are not scalable enough to make a lasting impact overall.

Future expansion

The first three countries where we are preparing to launch Novartis Access are Kenya, Ethiopia and Vietnam. These have been chosen given their great but diverse access challenges. Further, they combine a strong Novartis presence, an existing healthcare infrastructure and/or substantial partnerships with NGOs. This will allow us to support the delivery of medicine by building awareness of key NCDs and strengthening healthcare system capabilities in these diseases, including diagnosis and treatment.

Our initial plan is to roll out Novartis Access in 30 countries in the coming years – depending on government and stakeholder demand. We expect the insights we gather in Kenya, Ethiopia and Vietnam to guide our future expansion.

We know that we won’t solve the access challenge with this program alone, but we believe it can make a significant contribution to improving the lives of patients in low- and low-middle-income countries and help stem the tide of NCDs.