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Novartis reveals plans for a zero-profit COVID-19 drugs portfolio

Includes 15 medicines from company's generics division

Novartis

Swiss pharma company Novartis has unveiled plans to offer a portfolio of drugs to treat COVID-19 in a bid to help patients in low-income and lower-middle-income countries.

The new initiative aims to help countries to access affordable medicines to treat the major symptoms of COVID-19, including inflammation and respiratory problems linked to the disease.

The ‘Novartis COVID-19 portfolio’ is comprised of 15 medicines from its generics division, Sandoz, for the treatment of gastro-intestinal illness, acute respiratory symptoms, pneumonia and septic shock. The generic medicines to be included in the portfolio are Amoxicillin, Ceftriaxone, Clarithromycin, Colchicine, Dexamethasone, Dobutamine, Fluconazole, Heparin, Levofloxacin, Loperamide, Pantoprazole, Prednisone, Prednisolone, Salbutamol and Vancomycin.

As part of the initiative, these medicines will be made available to governments, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and other institutional customers in up to 79 eligible countries at zero-profit. The portfolio builds upon Novartis’ previous $40m donation to support those around the world who have been most affected by the pandemic.

“Access to medicine can be a challenge for patients in low- and lower-middle-income countries and the situation has worsened during COVID-19. With our COVID-19 portfolio, we wish to help address the additional healthcare demands of the pandemic in the countries we are targeting,” said Dr Lutz Hegemann, chief operating officer for global health at Novartis.

Novartis is also involved in the COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator, coordinated by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Wellcome and Mastercard, which is committed to ensuing that any treatment for COVID-19 is made available and affordable in low-resource settings.

As development for vaccines and therapeutics reaches later clinical trial stages, some have raised concerns that high-income countries are securing doses and stocks of promising candidates, which could leave low-income countries without these vital treatments.

The World Health Organization (WHO) announced yesterday that 75 countries have expressed interest in protecting their populations and those of other nations through joining the COVAX Facility.

This global solution is designed to guarantee fair and equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines worldwide, by partnering high-income countries with lower-income countries that are eligible for support, through voluntary donation to Gavi’s COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC).

“The COVID-19 pandemic, like every health crisis, also presents us with opportunities,” said Soumya Swaminathan, chief scientist of WHO.

“A vaccine that is affordable and accessible to all will help us address systemic health inequalities. We need all countries to support COVAX to achieve this goal and bring an end to the acute phase of the pandemic,” she added.

Article by
Lucy Parsons

16th July 2020

From: Healthcare

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