Novartis Discount on Chronic Disease Drugs

Novartis Discount on Chronic Disease DrugsNovartis Discount on Chronic Disease Drugs

Novartis plans to sell medications for heart disease, diabetes and other non-infectious diseases for just $1 per month’s supply in poor countries.

Drug makers’ charity programs usually focus on infectious diseases and ones spread by parasites, including malaria, HIV and tuberculosis.

But chronic diseases related to lifestyle and genetics are becoming more common in developing countries.

In low and middle-income countries, about 28 million people now die every year from heart disease, diabetes, respiratory disorders and cancers, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Novartis, the world’s biggest drug maker, said it decided to focus its program on those diseases. Called Novartis Access, it includes 15 drugs for high blood pressure, chronic heart failure, cholesterol problems, diabetes, breast cancer, asthma and respiratory infections. The company expects that it will help many more patients get the medications included, ABC News reported.  

The Swiss drug company will start shipping the medications by year-end to government and charity health programs in Ethiopia, Kenya and Vietnam.

It likely will expand next year and ultimately could reach 25 to 40 countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe. Even at the $1 per month price, Novartis Chairman Joerg Reinhardt said he thinks Novartis Access will be financially sustainable over the long term and could eventually cover all its costs, due to its large scale.

Drugs for Novartis Access will be made at existing Sandoz factories around the world and will have the same quality standard as its medicines sold elsewhere, he said.