Generosity: Kenya Receives $1 Medications From A Pharmacy Company To Treat Chronic Diseases


Over the past few months, we have published a number of articles that show the nature of the exploitative techniques that are employed by major pharmaceutical companies to make a profit. Unfortunately, many of these companies care more about profit then they do about the well-being of their customers or the public.

This exploitation is very common in the United States. In the US, chief executive officers of big pharmaceutical companies are only interested in making a profit for their companies. How people scrape together the money to buy the drugs they need, is never a concern for them.

But today, we are telling a different story. Whereas some pharmaceutical companies do not care about people, others are proving that they do actually care.  A pharmaceutical company in Switzerland, has done something in Africa that needs to be shared with the world.

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The pharmaceutical giant, Novartis International AG has launched an innovative program called Novartis Access, that seeks to provide medicine for a variety of non-communicable diseases in the East African country of Kenya, at a cost of $1 per treatment per month. Treating non-communicable diseases in Africa is very expensive, and those who cannot afford the treatment they need, have no alternative than to face death.

Novartis is one of the leading global pharmaceutical companies, and this new plan of offering treatment for chronic diseases at extremely low costs, has been welcomed by many people.

According to the Take Part, the Swiss-based company is ready to provide 15 patented and generic medicines for cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, respiratory illnesses, and breast cancer.

Reportedly, Novartis already provides affordable drugs to nongovernmental organizations and other stakeholders in the public sector, so the drugs can be distributed to people living in low-income countries.

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Statistics from the World Health Organization (WHO) show that chronic diseases kill some 38 million people worldwide every year. Nearly 75% of those deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries.

In Kenya alone, it is estimated that non-communicable diseases account for 27% of all deaths. Breast cancer, for example is the top cause of death for Kenyan women aged between 35 and 55.

The drugs to treat the diseases were chosen based on WHO’s Lists of Essential Medicines. However, the low cost price was determined by officials of Novartis, as part of their commitment to improve healthcare in the developing world.

“As a global health care company, we think it’s the right thing to do. The way we have approached this is not only to address one disease area at a time but to look into four main chronic disease areas at once and compile a portfolio of medicines where the average price is $1 per treatment for one month,” head of communications for Novartis Access, Nadine Schecker told journalists about the program.

Schecker also added that in discussions with partners and external stakeholders such as nongovernmental organizations, academics, and local governments, it became clear that there was a serious need to address the rising number of untreated chronic illnesses. She said, “I would say only recently have these diseases been recognized as an increasing burden and a real threat at a country level. The political will to take action is now there, which wasn’t the case several years ago.”

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As Novartis is busy with its plans to start rolling the program in Kenya, another African country, Ethiopia has also agreed to sign onto the program in order to lessen the financial burden on its citizens. Reportedly, Vietnam has also shown an interest in the program. By early next year, the program will start rolling in Kenya.

Currently, Novartis is hoping to have similar programs in 30 countries. These programs are also expected to include on-site education and outreach for patients, so people can better understand the cause and effect of chronic diseases. And to determine which countries it will work with, the company has shortlisted some 106 countries, and has applied a set of criteria including medical need, existing Novartis presence, the size of a team needed to implement the program, and the status of the health care system in such countries.

Novartis has been active in infectious disease medicine for more than 40 years, with flagship malaria, leprosy, and cancer programs.

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