Swiss multinational pharmaceutical company, Novartis, ranked third in the 2016 Access to Medicine Index (up from 4th place in 2014), in recognition of its efforts to improve worldwide access to healthcare.

The Index measures the performance of the top 20 pharmaceutical companies to improve access to medicines and healthcare in developing countries, and is conducted every other year.

Other pharmaceutical companies listed in the Index include GSK; Johnson and Johnson; Merck KGaA; Merck & Co. Inc.; Sanofi; Novo Nordisk; and Pfizer, among others.

The Index covers seven categories, including access-to-medicine management; capacity building; pricing; manufacturing; and distribution.

“We share the fundamental aim of the Access to Medicine Index: to close the access gap in developing countries,” said CEO of Novartis, Joseph Jimenez.

“We are delighted that our actions have been recognised, but more work is needed. In order to improve access even further, we will continue to work on creating more scalable and sustainable approaches to increase the affordability and availability of medicines to underserved patients,” continued Jimenez.

Novartis was the industry leader in access-to-medicine management and capacity building. The company also performed strongly on R&D, with a pipeline spanning all four disease categories in the scope of the Index.

Novartis also rose to the top three in pricing, manufacturing and distribution, significantly expanding its equitable pricing strategies.

Two programmes in particular were recognised as best practice: Novartis Access, the portfolio of 15 on- and off-patent medicines to fight chronic diseases in lower-income countries; and ComHIP, a programme supported by the Novartis Foundation and its partners to evaluate the impact of an innovative healthcare model on hypertension control and self-management in Ghana.

Furthermore, the company’s long-term product donations for liver fluke and leprosy stood out for their reach and broad coverage, according to the Index.

In capacity building, Novartis improved on its already strong performance in 2014. The Index highlights the company’s engagement with the University of Cape Town (UCT) on malaria and TB drug discovery, as well as the award-winning SMS for Life programme, a public-private partnership (PPP) to manage medicine stocks in sub-Saharan Africa. SMS for Life has been piloted in more than 10,000 healthcare facilities and is being scaled up using smartphones and tablet computers.

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