Two billion people across the globe do not have adequate access to health. We are striving to make health solutions affordable, raise awareness of diseases and teach people how to manage them. We are working with committed partners to tackle this complex challenge by researching innovative solutions, developing new approaches and improving existing programs to help people at the point of care.
Our approach to improving healthcare of underserved populations
Our aim is to create a healthier future for all: for individuals, communities and countries. We want to use innovation in science and technology to improve the health of underserved populations in low- and middle-income countries. To achieve this, we are leveraging our expertise from all business sectors and collaborating closely with a wide range of partners. We also participate in industry-wide initiatives and work with other businesses to develop new approaches.
In 2018, we refined our Global Health strategy for addressing the global needs that impact access to health. Our strategy is designed to overcome access barriers for underserved populations and communities in developing countries in a business-integrated and sustainable manner, thereby creating “shared value.” For us, creating shared value means developing business models that increase the value and competitiveness of our company and at the same time solve unmet health needs and bring value to underserved populations, thereby creating a win-win-situation for us and society.
In order to address unmet needs whilst strengthening health systems and our position in the market, we follow three core operating principles:
- Developing innovative solutions: we take a leading role in the elimination of schistosomiasis, and we create new integrated drug, diagnostic and vector control solutions for infectious diseases.
- Engaging cross-sector partners: we participate in multi-stakeholder global health platforms to help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. We utilize access alliances for our solutions and create locally based opportunities where possible.
- Creating business opportunities via a shared value approach: we help sustainably improve the health of underserved populations by drawing our portfolio from across all three of our business sectors.
We have created focus programs to address our priority areas. We want to be instrumental in the elimination of schistosomiasis and fight malaria and other infectious diseases whilst helping to build local capacity across the value chain and positioning our company as a leading and reliable partner.
Activities within our strategy for global access to healthcare are generally related to one of four areas:
- Availability: we research, develop and refine health solutions that address unmet needs, tailoring them to local environments. For example, we are committed to the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative.
- Affordability: we seek to provide assistance to those who are unable to pay for the health solutions they need, for example through our Patient Access Programs. This also includes addressing challenges surrounding pricing and intellectual property.
- Awareness: we help raise awareness for diseases and therapies by empowering medical professionals, communities and patients to make informed decisions. One way to do this is through our global awareness campaigns.
- Accessibility: we promote initiatives that strengthen supply chains and develop localized health solutions. Medicines should reach the people who need them quickly and safely, as demonstrated in our NTDeliver project.
How we are improving access to healthcare
Our Global Health unit coordinates the implementation of our strategy for global access to healthcare. Several teams work on ways to investigate and reduce the barriers that make it difficult for underserved populations to receive healthcare.
Our Global Health unit is responsible for Group-wide initiatives, programs and sponsorships that relate to global health topics. Our experts collaborate closely with the Healthcare, Life Science and Performance Materials business sectors to effectively leverage their strengths and competencies.
Integrated into our Global Health unit, the Global Health Institute seeks to provide research and development capabilities in order to engage in health system strengthening programs and develop a sustainable portfolio of treatments, diagnostics and preventive measures against infectious diseases. The Institute operates as a social business enterprise, using innovative financial mechanisms to deliver innovations for those who are most vulnerable: women and children in the developing world.
Our Access to Health subunit investigates the factors that make it more difficult for underserved populations to receive healthcare, working with various partners to develop ways to remove these barriers.
Our Praziquantel Donation Program, the third subunit, coordinates our efforts to eliminate schistosomiasis together with our external partners.
Our commitment: Providing a solid basis for access to healthcare
To demonstrate our commitment to access to healthcare, we publish a dedicated Access to Health Charter on our website. This charter sets out guidelines on the following:
- Our approach
- Pharmaceutical product donations
- Fake medicines
- R&D for infectious diseases
- Pharmaceutical product pricing
- Intellectual property rights
Every two years, the Access to Medicine Foundation publishes the Access to Medicine Index, in which it benchmarks 20 of the world’s largest research-based pharmaceutical companies on activities and initiatives that experts consider most relevant for access to medicine, ranging from donations, and patents to capacity-building. We use the ranking to inform and, in certain cases, guide our access to health strategy and approach.
We endorsed the London Declaration on Neglected Tropical Diseases when it was launched in 2012. Participating companies, governments and private organizations promise to help control or even eliminate the top ten most prevalent infections. We are particularly engaged in the fight against schistosomiasis.
Access to Medicine Index Ranking 2018
We have maintained our ranking of 4th place in the 2018 Index, a recognition of our company’s integrated strategy on access to medicine, our efforts across the whole value chain to address the needs of unserved and underserved populations, and our commitment to shared value.
The company has been particularly recognized by the Access to Medicine Foundation for leading practices such as:
- Establishing the Global Health Institute to accelerate R&D, incorporate access provisions and build capacity for projects and initiatives targeting schistosomiasis, malaria and bacterial infections
- Joining the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative’s NTD Drug Discovery Booster to accelerate the development of early-stage projects for Chagas disease and leishmaniasis as part of company’s commitment to Open Innovation
- Improving access to better therapies in diabetes, cancer, hypertension, and fertility in underserved regions through our Capacity Advancement Program.
- Joining “Access Accelerated”, a global initiative with multiple programs including our Capacity Advancement Program, which affirms our commitment to measuring impact and sharing results publicly via the Access Observatory
- Disclosing publicly the patent statuses for small molecules in scope via the Pat-INFORMED platform with 20 leading research-based pharmaceutical companies and in collaboration with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)
The 2018 Access to Medicine Index ranking and the report card for our company can be accessed here: www.accesstomedicineindex.org
Partnering to develop clinical capacity and skills
In order to advance global access to healthcare, it is necessary to develop trained and professional clinical personnel. We are collaborating with the European & Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP), which supports international fellowship programs for post-doctoral researchers from developing and emerging countries. In addition to receiving training on clinical aspects such as clinical trial practices and clinical management, research fellows are also given the opportunity to work for a period of up to 24 months at a number of leading pharmaceutical enterprises, including our own company. They are then able to return to their home countries and academic institutions with the knowledge they need to implement their research in line with international regulatory requirements and standards, as well as to train other local students to also help them enhance own their skills.
Partnerships and dialogue are important instruments for improving access to healthcare, and we aim for stakeholder dialogues that have a large-scale relevance and impact. Our partners include multinational organizations, government agencies and NGOs, as well as academic institutions, health industry associations, private sector companies and independent experts on global health topics.
Alliances for better access to health
We are a member of the Business for Social Responsibility (BSR) initiative and have also endorsed the BSR Guiding Principles on Access to Healthcare, which provide a framework for us to refine and enhance our Global Health efforts.
In 2017, we joined forces with 21 other leading pharmaceutical companies to launch Access Accelerated, a global initiative that seeks to improve both the treatment and prevention of non-communicable diseases in low- and middle-income countries.
Our Access Dialogue Series
Our Access Dialogue Series were launched in 2013, as a multi-stakeholder platform for sharing information and exchanging best practices on broadening access to healthcare. We are always looking for opportunities for collaborative actions. The outcomes of the series inform and drive our access strategy, plan of action and engagements. This process is intended to be an open space for insightful and critical dialogue on how we and our partners can best use our respective capacities, experience, expertise and competencies to sustainably address access barriers. In 2018, we hosted an event on open innovation and intellectual property as well as supply chain and delivery.
Discussions at a global level
We participated in many events in 2018, that had a global reach or relevance. To position ourselves as a key player for global health, we continued to engage major stakeholders in a dialogue on infectious diseases, and to deepen collaborations with the scientific community through publications and primary roles at international scientific conferences and events. We were also part of stakeholder groups including the Swiss NTD Alliance and the Swiss Malaria Group.
Selection of events and initiatives:
- International Society for Neglected Tropical Diseases (ISNTD) conferences in London (United Kingdom) in March and June 2018
- World Malaria Day, including a ‘Malaria Screening Campaign and a Scientific Forum’ attended by the First Lady of Ghana in Accra (Ghana) in April 2018
- Multilateral Initiative on Malaria (MIM) – 7th Pan African Conference on Malaria, in Dakar (Senegal) in April 2018
- World Health Assembly in Geneva (Switzerland) in May 2018
- 15th International Symposium on Schistosomiasis in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) in August 2018
- 9th European & Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP) Forum 2018 in Lisbon (Portugal) in September 2018
- World Health Summit in Berlin (Germany) in October 2018, panel on “Access to Essential Medicines”
- 67th American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (ASTMH) in New Orleans (United States) in October/November 2018
- Access Dialogue Series: Supply Chain & Delivery in January 2018 and Innovative Intellectual Property and Access in November 2018
- Hosted Fellows from the African Public Health Leaders Fellowship at our Vevey manufacturing site in November 2018