Novartis recently announced the launch of Novartis Access, a portfolio of 15 medicines for chronic disease treatment in low- and middle-income countries, which addresses diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, respiratory illness, and breast cancer. The company will offer this portfolio to governments, NGOs, and other public-sector healthcare providers for $1 per treatment per month. The portfolio includes patented and generic Novartis medicines that were selected based on the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Essential Medicines List and that are reportedly among the most commonly prescribed medicines. Novartis has not yet provided specifics on what exact medications are within the portfolio but as the latest WHO list does not include DPP-4 inhibitors, we would guess that within diabetes, Novartis is offering Glyred (gliclazide + metformin). According to the announcement, the company will first launch the portfolio in Kenya, Ethiopia, and Vietnam and will expand this to 30 countries over the coming years, depending on demand. In addition, Novartis states that it is actively seeking to partner with governments, NGOs, and other public-sector organizations to strengthen healthcare systems in areas that may include raising awareness about chronic disease, training healthcare workers, and strengthening distribution systems. We applaud Novartis for pioneering this work to alleviate health disparities globally – especially as chronic disease generates less attention within the global health field – and for collaborating across sectors in the goal of creating more sustainable impact.
-- by Melissa An and Kelly Close