Strengthening Healthcare Access
In collaboration with our partners, we aim to support more patients in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) to access our medicines, for a healthier global society.
With a growing population worldwide and increased life expectancy, healthcare is more important than ever. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the devastating impact illnesses can have without access to medical care, treatments and vaccines.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), around 2 billion people do not have access to essential medicines. Without effective treatments, illnesses can be more severe, and patients face worse health outcomes. Those with chronic conditions may spend years suffering while their health slowly deteriorates. They are also more likely to face poverty and hunger, creating a cycle of deprivation. With 80 percent of countries accounting for just 20 percent of the world’s pharmaceutical consumption, it is people in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) who are impacted most from this lack of access.
Increasing access to healthcare remains one of the most prioritized yet complex global development challenges, as reflected in the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 3. Living up to our vision of Health for All means doing everything we can to ensure that any person that needs our products can obtain them.
Providing access requires a broad range of interventions
Addressing the complex challenge of increasing patient access is no easy task, so we are deploying a variety of strategies that address the diverse needs of patients in all parts of the world. This ranges from in-kind donations of our products and intellectual resources to active contribution to global health networks. We are also transforming our business by introducing flexible, tailored approaches to reduce the burden of cost on patients by working to expand reimbursed access through our equitable pricing approach, as well as dispensing more doses of our medicines per year through our Patient Affordability Programs (PAPs). Of course, across all of these approaches, we are collaborating with global and local NGOs, government agencies, charities, and other partners to ensure maximum impact.
Collaborating and contributing where it’s needed most
One straight-forward way we are making a difference is by making in-kind donations of medicines that would otherwise not make it to patients, such as our products that treat Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) endemic to some of the most impoverished and remote parts of the world, or our treatments for rare conditions like Hemophilia. Additionally, as a leader in women’s health, we’re empowering women globally by widening access to voluntary family planning – a key commitment in our Sustainability Agenda – through donations and reduced-cost access programs with partners.
In many instances, donations are not enough, or not sustainable in achieving our goal of consistent access in the long term. Through programs like the Ghana Heart Initiative, we collaborate with local partners to strengthen healthcare systems in LMICs by supporting activities all along the stages of the value chain with a focus on patient access. For other pressing health topics like antimicrobial resistance or the fight against COVID-19, we play an active role in established global networks by contributing both financial and intellectual resources.
Tackling affordability constraints with new, equitable pricing approach
When it comes to access to medicine, we know cost can be a major barrier. Affordability can vary greatly across countries and regions. We believe that this should be taken into consideration as we aim to deliver more access to our medicines to more patients worldwide. That is why we are transforming the way we price our products. Our new pharmaceutical pricing philosophy amalgamates local ability-to-pay with product value to provide patients in need with our products. Our pricing philosophy takes into consideration local affordability and the value of the products to offer greater pricing flexibility to countries' national health systems.
Our pricing philosophy approach was initiated in 2020 and will continue to roll out worldwide in 2021.
Working to ensure treatment affordability for those who need it
Our tailored Patient Affordability Programs (PAPs) help patients overcome financial obstacles to access the treatments they need for as long as they need them. We work with insurers, charities, and others to make the financial impact on patients less severe.
While patients in different low-and-middle-income countries may face similar challenges in affording medicines, each country will have different health care systems and ways of making treatments available. Our PAPs are created according to the local need of each country and can support patients by:
- Assessing the individual’s ability to pay, resulting in a customized approach where each individual will be required to pay only the amount one can afford during a 12-month period.
- Providing the required medication at reduced cost, in the form of an immediate or deferred discount on the patient’s price or free-of-charge goods.
By building our PAPs on the specific needs of each country, we have been able to make considerable progress in expanding access to our medicines. With programs introduced across different geographies in multiple therapeutic areas, we see the potential to reach an additional 150,000 patients in the first three years, with continued growth beyond.
Measuring outcomes, demonstrating impact
We work closely with our partners to measure the outcomes and impact that our efforts have on increasing patients’ access to healthcare. Whether it is our work with the WHO and other organizations to eradicate NTDs; our collaboration with the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ), the Ghana Heart Initiative and others on increasing the effectiveness of cardiovascular treatment in Ghana; or working with The Challenge Initiative to increase women’s access to contraception and family planning resources, we credibly track our impact through our partners and are committed to transparently and regularly reporting on our successes.
We are building our pricing philosophy and affordability models into our DNA, generating positive impact for both society and our business. We are currently developing a framework to measure our progress against the access targets we have set for our pricing philosophy and PAPs. As part of this we will seek to monitor:
- The uptake of these approaches across low-and-middle-income countries (LMICs)
- The number of patients enrolled into PAPs
Going forward, this knowledge will be used to adapt our approach to make sure we remain effective in our mission to widen patient access to treatments, particularly in LMICs.