AFRICA – Swiss multinational pharmaceutical company, Norvatis has announced a new strategy to broaden patient reach and availability of its portfolio of medicines in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), which is home to the largest under-served patient population in the world.

The strategy is aligned with the Novartis Access Principles, which aim to systematically integrate access strategies in how the company researches, develops and delivers medicines globally, the company said in a statement.

 The pharmaceutical giant will leverage on its newly formed sub-Saharan Africa unit to deploy innovative approaches to increase patient reach across the full income pyramid by focusing on tiered pricing models, competitiveness in tenders and scaling social business models as well as affordability strategies.

“We are deeply committed to improving access to medicines around the world,” says VasNarasimhan, CEO of Novartis.

“Building on our longstanding efforts to improving health in Africa, including on malaria and sickle cell disease, we’re taking a comprehensive approach to ensuring patients in sub-Saharan Africa, regardless of income, have access to our portfolio of medicines.”

According to Norvatis, Africa’s share of the world’s health expenditure is below 1% and only 3% of the world’s health workers are based on the continent, despite it being home to a quarter of the global disease burden.

Health systems have thus been forced to rely on NGOs and external donors to fund and provide services for the largest underserved patient population in the world.

As part of the new strategy, Novartis will pivot the current organizational focus in SSA from financial metrics such as sales performance and profits, to metrics that drive access to innovative medicines and strengthen health systems in the region.

The company revealed that a new organizational unit will bring together the expertise and portfolio of the Sandoz Division, the Novartis Pharmaceuticals, and the Oncology business units comprising of its Innovative Medicines Division and Novartis Social Business unit.

Novartis also will work to increase its clinical trial capabilities, and accelerate regulatory and administrative processes in the region to shorten the time between the development, approval and ultimately access to new medicines for patients across SSA.

Novartis which is one of the largest contributor of no-profit medicine to patients in Africa also aspires to be the partner of choice for governments and NGOs to strengthen healthcare systems across the continent.