Swiss drug maker Novartis AG has announced on Thursday, Sept. 24 that it will launch Novartis Access portfolio, which is comprised of 15 commonly prescribed medicines for the treatment of diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, pulmonary conditions and breast cancer. Under this program, the products will be offered to government, non-government and other public health providers for a cost of $1 per treatment, per month.

The portfolio will include patented and generic medicines, and will initially be started in the countries of Vietnam, Ethiopia and Kenya. The company plans to extend this program to about 30 more nations, according to the set demands. Novartis is looking at making this effort commercially feasible for a long time, allowing for persistent assistance in these countries.

The medicines that have been included in the said portfolio were based on the Essential Medicines List drafted by the World Health Organization (WHO). These drugs are also said to be among the most medically prescribed in these nations.

"Novartis Access is a natural extension of two important contributions our company makes to society," said Joerg Reinhardt, Novartis' chairman of the board. These contributions include creating innovative drugs to help humans battle diseases and making these products available to as many individuals as possible. This effort takes an emergent approach to respond to the increasing incidence of chronic medical diseases in regions where there is a significant lack of health care availability. The company is aware that it has to stay open-minded as it learns and sails on this journey, he added.

About 28 million individuals succumb to death every year due to long-term non-infectious diseases in low and middle income nations. This number can be translated to about 75 percent of mortalities due to non-infectious diseases worldwide. WHO estimates that by 2025, 75 percent of all deaths will be rooted from non-communicable diseases because of its swift rise in impoverished regions.

To further address the rapid increase of chronic diseases, Novartis is also looking at collaborating with government, non-government and public health firms to boost health care delivery systems. Among the possible interventions that the drug company is planning in order to achieve this goal include public awareness programs and healthcare worker trainings.

Novartis Access will be launched simultaneously with the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit 2015, which is said to be a venue where new Sustainable Development Goals will be set.

Photo: Ian Barbour | Flickr

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