Novartis launches not-for-profit COVID-19 medications portfolio

The portfolio will be offered to low- and lower-middle-income countries to help financially strained healthcare systems care for COVID-19 patients.

Novartis logo Novartis building in Stein, Switzerland [Credit: Taljat David]

Novartis building in Stein, Switzerland [Credit: Taljat David]

Novartis has announced a new initiative to help patients in low-income and lower-middle-income countries (LIC; LMIC) access affordable medicines to treat the major symptoms of COVID-19.

The initiative, called the COVID-19 Portfolio, includes 15 medicines from its Sandoz division for gastro-intestinal illness, acute respiratory symptoms, pneumonia and septic shock. These medicines were chosen based on clinical relevance, as inflammation and respiratory complications are characteristic of COVID-19, and availability, to ensure demand can be met globally.

The medicines will be made available at zero-profit to governments, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and other institutional customers in around 79 eligible countries to support financially strained healthcare systems. Countries will have the flexibility to select the medicines in the portfolio that meet their healthcare needs. Eligible countries must be included on the World Bank’s list of LICs & LMICs.

“Access to medicine can be a challenge for patients in low- and lower-middle-income countries and the situation has worsened during COVID-19. With our COVID-19 portfolio, we wish to help address the additional healthcare demands of the pandemic in the countries we are targeting,” said Dr Lutz Hegemann, Chief Operating Officer for Global Health at Novartis.

Sandoz Chief Executive Officer, Richard Saynor added: “This initiative builds on our earlier global commitment to keep prices stable for a basket of essential drugs used to treating COVID-19 patients. The COVID-19 Response Portfolio for low-income and lower-middle-income countries is designed to support governments in treating COVID-19 symptoms before they lead to complications in patients.”

The following medicines are included in the portfolio: Amoxicillin, Ceftriaxone, Clarithromycin, Colchicine, Dexamethasone, Dobutamine, Fluconazole, Heparin, Levofloxacin, Loperamide, Pantoprazole, Prednisone, Prednisolone, Salbutamol and Vancomycin.

The portfolio will be offered in addition to the Novartis Access portfolio (on- and off-patent medicines against key non-communicable diseases) via the local Novartis or Sandoz affiliate.