In every society around the world, there are people living with diabetes who are not receiving the treatment and care they need. This problem is acute in low- and middle-income countries where four in five people with diabetes live; at the same time even in the richest societies there are populations who do not get the right care. This gap in care for diabetes and other non-communicable diseases hasn’t had the attention it needs, and the consequences are profound: these diseases shorten millions of people’s lives each year and lead to severe avoidable complications, they impact families and communities, and add further pressures to hard-pressed health systems and economies.
Novo Nordisk has been a leader in diabetes care for nearly a century, and we provide approximately half of the world’s insulin. Diabetes is a condition that can be treated successfully and affordably, even in the poorest settings. We’re committed to closing the gap in access to diabetes care for people around the world, continuously integrating our response into how we do business.
Since the launch of our first access to care strategy in 2001, we have been working to improve access to diabetes care for underserved populations through a range of initiatives. Our initial contribution was a groundbreaking policy to lower the cost of insulin in the poorest countries. This was updated in 2017 as our Access to Insulin Commitment to lower the ceiling price and include humanitarian relief settings. Through this commitment we guarantee that we will provide low-priced human insulin for patients in the poorest parts of the world for many years to come. We wish to provide affordable insulin treatment to significantly more patients in low- and middle-income countries and we are committed to pass on any future gains in production efficiency to patients.
Through a growing range of partnerships, we’re expanding our efforts and embedding solutions into our day-to-day business in order to help people access the care they need, no matter where they live. And because many of the challenges are common to other non-communicable diseases, we are joining forces with others so that our efforts to tackle diabetes contribute to the broader fight against chronic diseases.
We know from experience that the barriers to access care are complex: from getting the product to those who need it – at a price they can afford and with a reliability they can depend on, to combatting shortages of healthcare professionals who can effectively diagnose and treat diabetes with the required equipment. That’s why we’re taking a holistic approach, responding in three critical areas:
1. Making our medicines available and affordable
Our starting point must be the core of our business: making the medicines that we discover and develop accessible to people living with diabetes throughout the world. In addition to the ceiling price for LDCs, we have learned that we need to work with others to improve the efficiency of both the supply chain and government procurement and tendering. And we’ve developed partnerships focused on understanding and addressing these bottlenecks, so that more of the benefits of our products will reach those who need it most.
2. Building capacity in health systems and societies.
However, defeating diabetes will not be achieved by medicine alone. Since we established the World Diabetes Foundation in 2002, we’ve donated hundreds of millions of dollars to the prevention and treatment of diabetes in low- and middle-income countries. And with a network of public and private partners, including health providers and civil society, we have helped shape the system of support for people with diabetes in countries around the world. We’re learning what it takes to help to build the capacity of the healthcare facilities and professionals to diagnose and treat people, and raise awareness of diabetes among the wider public.
3. Increasing access for the most vulnerable populations.
We also focus on people who are most vulnerable today, for whom there is the greatest risk and little or no safety net. Novo Nordisk has a history of staying there for people with diabetes – from war zones to natural disasters. As the scale of these challenges mount, we are stepping up the scale of our response.
Novo Nordisk is here to drive change for people living with diabetes by applying our expertise and resources, and lending our voice on the issues that matter. Yet we recognize that without renewed effort to meet the needs of underserved populations, the growth in non-communicable diseases risks undermining progress in sustainable development.
That’s why in 2018 we’re embarking on new – built to scale – collaborations with others who have a stake in improving the system of diabetes care. We’re driving the formation of a new global multi-stakeholder partnership to strengthen the supply and procurement of medicines for non-communicable diseases – going to the root of the problem and contributing from the core of our business. And through that partnership and others we’ll work to provide the most effective ways of diagnosing and treating diabetes in the poorest countries and in humanitarian crises.
As we take our efforts to the next level, we are determined to be ambitious, be accountable and share what we learn so that we can make more and faster progress, together.