Medicines donations - positions

Public position on medicines donations

Background

Non-communicable diseases (NCDs), including diabetes, are the leading causes for mortality and morbidity worldwide. Their burden is increasing fastest in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) where 75% of NCD-related deaths occur.[1] Emergency relief and humanitarian aid organisations have witnessed a significant increase of NCDs among refugees and internally displaced populations. While in the past these populations were mostly affected by infectious diseases such as malaria or cholera, today many also require treatment for NCDs such as diabetes, hypertension, cancers and respiratory diseases. For a person with diabetes, the lack of insulin availability can lead to life-threatening complications such as ketoacidosis, blindness, kidney failure or heart attack. Concerted action and coordination between actors is needed to ensure access to healthcare and ongoing treatment for these patients.

  • Novo Nordisk’s primary role in improving care is the discovery and development of new medicines that help to control disease progression and prevent complications.
  • As a global leader in diabetes care, Novo Nordisk is committed to using its expertise to improve access to diabetes care for all people with diabetes.
  • The company has a long standing preferential pricing scheme, the Access to Insulin Commitment, according to which Novo Nordisk guarantees to provide human insulin in vials at a guaranteed ceiling price. The ceiling price for 2017 is set at 4.00 USD per vial (around 12 cents per day).
  • Novo Nordisk also invests in capacity building, education and prevention in environments where infrastructure and medical expertise are lacking. This is primarily done through the long-term financial commitment to the World Diabetes Foundation and the Novo Nordisk Haemophilia Foundation.  
  • In addition, Novo Nordisk has established initiatives that directly contribute to the company-wide efforts to achieve long-lasting impacts on the availability, accessibility, affordability and quality of care, as part of its strategy for access to diabetes care. The strategy includes programmes such as The Base of the Pyramid which aims to improve access to medicines; The Changing Diabetes in Children programme to improve access to care for children with type 1 diabetes in LMICs; and the Changing Diabetes in Pregnancy programme addressing gestational diabetes care.

Position

  • Medicines donations are not a core component of Novo Nordisk’s efforts to improving access to care, as they are not seen as having a long-lasting sustainable impact on health systems.
  • An exception is the donation of human insulin to children through the Changing Diabetes in Children programme, where access to treatment for poor and vulnerable children remains a major barrier.
  • Furthermore, the company has a policy on donations in case of humanitarian emergencies. When appropriate, NN can decide to donate medicines, in-kind services and funding to humanitarian aid organisations working in disaster or conflict struck environments that require immediate action. All medicines donations are in adherence with WHO’s Interagency Guidelines for Drug Donations.[2]

Contact: NLND@novonordisk.com

[1] WHO (2015). Global Status Report on non-communicable diseases 2014. Geneva: World Health Organization.

[2] WHO (2010). Guidelines for Drug Donations. Available at: http://www.who.int/medicines/publications/med_donationsguide2011/en/ (accessed 25/06/18).