Novartis has announced plans to offer its COVID-19 Response Portfolio, a selection of over-the-counter (OTC) and generic medications, at cost to governments in eligible countries. The offer, coming from the company’s Sandoz division, is slated to be available during the course of the pandemic, or until a vaccine or curative treatment is available.
Lutz Hegemann, chief operating officer for global health at Novartis, told Outsourcing-Pharma the measure is intended to offer a helping hand to disadvantaged patient populations at a time when it is most needed.
“Access to medicine can be a challenge for patients in low- and lower-middle-income countries and the situation has worsened during COVID-19,” Hegemann told us. “With our COVID-19 portfolio, we wish to help address the additional healthcare demands of the pandemic to help mitigate the impact on LICs and LMICS and support healthcare systems in dealing with the virus.”
The drugs are intended to treat various major symptoms of COVID-19, in the absence of an available preventive measure or cure. The treatments in the roster are geared toward gastro-intestinal illnesses, acute respiratory symptoms, pneumonia and septic shock; they were selected based on clinical relevance and availability.
The products include:
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. Eligible countries must be included on the World Bank’s list of low-income countries (LICs) or lower-middle income countries (LMICs).
“This initiative builds on our earlier global commitment to keep prices stable for a basket of essential drugs used to treating COVID-19 patients,” said 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 COVID-19 medicines portfolio comes after a series of other actions Novartis has taken with the intent to help mitigate the global impact of COVID-19. Hegemann told OSP that it is vital that industry companies work together toward the common goal of beating the virus.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has reinforced the need for collaboration across the pharmaceutical industry, and with other organizations, to accelerate the development, manufacturing and delivery of vaccines, diagnostics and treatments in response to this global health crisis,” he said. “Novartis has been active in two key cross-industry research initiatives, the COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator, coordinated by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Wellcome, and Mastercard, as well as a COVID-19 directed partnership organized by the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI).”