By Lars Fruergaard Jørgensen, President and
chief executive officer (CEO) of Novo Nordisk
| Published 26 March 2020
Given our focus on serious chronic diseases, you will often hear the phrase ‘an emergency in slow motion’ being applied to diseases such as diabetes and obesity here in Novo Nordisk. The COVID-19 pandemic is an entirely different crisis and one that has swept all before it since the turn of the year.
From the moment that the outbreak began to gather force in China in January, our focus has been clear: we aim to safeguard the wellbeing of our employees and ensure the supply of our lifesaving medicines to people with serious chronic diseases across the globe. This is as important now as it ever has been given that people with diabetes appear to be more vulnerable to becoming seriously ill as a result of this novel virus.
This crisis is without precedent in our lifetime and each day it presents new challenges to governments and healthcare systems across the globe – as it does to all of us on a personal level. In homes around the world, we’re working hard and tackling the new challenges it poses to our supply chain. Crucially, in our global manufacturing facilities, colleagues are finding new ways of working to ensure that our supply of medicines is maintained.
As things stand, we’re not experiencing any manufacturing constraints and we are working as hard as possible to ensure that this remains the case. The road will be a long one – not least as COVID-19 threatens to sweep through less economically stable regions than the current epicentre, Europe – but we’ll do whatever we can to get our medicines to those who need them.
Our learnings from China give us a good starting point. We can say that we’ve operated a production facility in a country experiencing lockdown, maintaining continuity of supply in the process. We also put in place online solutions that enabled people with diabetes in China to access insulin smoothly as the outbreak took hold. We’re applying these learnings and seeking the counsel of our colleagues in China in strengthening our global operations.
We’ve seen that in some countries, health authorities and pharmacies are rationing insulin in a bid to ensure that there is a supply for all who need it. Although there may be limits to what you can get with a prescription at any one time, rest assured that behind the scenes we have a long-term supply which we monitor closely with partners internationally.
Defeating this pandemic requires that now more than ever, we pool our skills and resources. We’re constantly evaluating where we can make a meaningful difference and we’ve already been able to make some small but important contributions.
Medically-qualified colleagues have selflessly volunteered to work in healthcare systems. Our scientists are working in research & development laboratories adapted to boost Denmark’s COVID-19 testing capacity. We’re donating essential equipment including masks and gloves and this week provided 20 tonnes of alcohol to replenish stocks of hand sanitiser in hospitals. I was also proud to see our majority shareholder the Novo Nordisk Foundation make more than $7 million USD available to fight COVID-19 in Denmark.
Winning this battle requires not only funding and resources but collaboration from all corners of society and from all sectors. Wherever possible, we will contribute to this whilst never losing focus in our efforts to maintain the supply of our lifesaving medicines to people with serious chronic diseases.
I sincerely hope that we’ll soon have the upper hand over COVID-19. I’m proud to be part of an industry that is working around the clock to discover effective treatments and vaccines. There will be dark days to come, but together we can and we will overcome this crisis. In the meantime, take care of yourselves and those around you, and let’s all play our part in preventing the spread of COVID-19.
In times like these, we know information can be a bit noisy. We want to help provide clarity for Healthcare providers, patients, partners and others. Below you can see how to contact us with your questions or concerns:
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