Being part of the solution on pricing and access
Why is it important?
Improving access to medicines remains one of the greatest healthcare needs worldwide. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), one-quarter of the world’s population – 2 billion people – have no access to basic medicines. Roughly 1 billion people faced catastrophic payments for healthcare in 2020, driven in large part by out-of-pocket spending on medicines. With COVID-19 putting nearly half of the global workforce at risk of losing their livelihoods, there has never been more urgency to make medicines affordable and secure equitable access to healthcare. Collectively, the global health community has a responsibility to help ensure that no one is left behind and that anyone who requires treatment receives it.
Our approach and performance
Through our core business – the discovery, development and marketing of innovative treatments – we have helped prevent and treat diseases, ease suffering, and improve quality of life. But as the size and complexity of the world’s healthcare challenges grow, we must widen our scope, extending our impact even further to help effectively address the needs of underserved populations in a way that is sustainable for our business.
We established the Novartis access principles in 2017 to systematically integrate access strategies into how we research, develop and deliver our new medicines globally. This is a key measure of success for our leaders and associates. Our emerging markets center of excellence in our Pharmaceuticals business unit supports the implementation of the principles by ingraining access into all new launches in LMICs. Strategies can include establishing innovative pricing and access models, driving early launches in these countries, and supporting approaches to strengthen healthcare systems. The Access to Medicine Foundation has repeatedly recognized our efforts in this area, ranking us second in the 2018 Access to Medicine Index among 20 of the world’s largest healthcare companies.
Our drug development processes require our teams to explore how we can increase our impact in LMICs in terms of affordability, health system strengthening, and adaptive research and development (R&D). The Novartis Research & Development Committee reviews all drug development submissions and holds our clinical research teams accountable for acting on access opportunities.
The highest ranks of our organization are accountable for expanding access to our treatments. Members of the Executive Committee of Novartis (ECN) and other senior leaders have access indicators in their annual objectives. This keeps our entire company focused on increasing our positive impact on society.
In September, as part of the company’s ambition to expand access to innovative medicines in LMICs, Novartis committed to increase patient reach with our strategic innovative therapies by at least 200% by 2025. In addition, we announced we would increase patient reach of our global health flagship programs in leprosy, malaria, sickle cell disease and Chagas disease by at least 50% over the same period. Achievement of these targets, which we will report on annually, should result in a potential reach of more than 24 million patients across therapy areas.
To reinforce our commitment to the patient access targets, we issued a EUR 1.85 billion sustainability-linked bond (SLB). The bond is the first of its kind in the healthcare industry and the first SLB incorporating social targets, with bondholders entitled to receive a higher amount of interest if Novartis fails to meet its access targets. Novartis obtained two separate second-party opinions that validate the robustness and relevance of the key performance indicators and targets, one from the Access to Medicine Foundation and one from Sustainalytics, a consultancy with recognized environmental, social and governance (ESG) expertise. Sustainalytics also confirmed alignment of the bond with the Sustainability-Linked Bond Principles published by the International Capital Markets Association. We will report annually on our performance against these patient access targets, with limited assurance by an external verifier.
In this section
Read about our approach to pricing and access, and our progress in implementing the Novartis access principles:
Adapting medicines to address unmet needs We carry out research and development with an aim to help address the unmet needs of underserved patients. Known as adaptive development, we continually assess our product portfolio to see where we can deliver new solutions for vulnerable populations.
Developing effective affordability strategies We work to make our medicines available, taking local economic realities into account and considering a range of approaches to expand access across the income pyramid, including tiered pricing, innovative business models, emerging market brand strategies, patient access programs and off-patent solutions.
Integrated access programs & markets Novartis has been pioneering social business models for more than 10 years, which have provided important lessons for expanding access to affordable medicines and delivering quality care in lower-income settings.
Leaving no patient behind in sub-Saharan Africa We established a dedicated organization in sub-Saharan Africa focussed on deploying innovative approaches to increase patient reach in this region, which is home to the largest underserved population in the world.
Patient assistance programs Patient assistance programs are critical for helping patients access healthcare when it is unaffordable, including uninsured or underinsured patients in high-income countries.
Donations Through strategic donations, Novartis supports lower-income countries in their efforts to treat patients for neglected diseases or life-threatening conditions, and to provide medicines in areas impacted by healthcare crises, natural disasters or extreme poverty.
Strengthening health systems We work to help strengthen healthcare systems across the globe, collaborating with governments and other partners to lower barriers to healthcare delivery and supporting quality patient care in areas where we can have the greatest impact.