Novartis & African Union Partner To Facilitate Supply Of COVID-19 Related Medicines

Posted on September 3, 2020

Novartis and the African Union (AU) through the Africa Medical Supplies Platform (AMSP) have announced a new collaboration to facilitate the supply of medicines from the Novartis Pandemic Response Portfolio to the AU member states and Caricom countries.

The AMSP portal is an online marketplace that enables the supply of COVID-19-related critical medical equipment in Africa. It was developed under the leadership of the AU Special Envoy, Strive Masiyiwa and powered by Janngo, on behalf of Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC). The platform was also developed in partnership with African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA).

This collaboration aims to help alleviate supply and logistical constraints by ensuring efficient and rapid access to the Pandemic Portfolio medicines to African and Caricom governments. The AU comprises 55 Member States, representing all the countries on the African continent, while 15 Caricom countries are eligible for the Pandemic Portfolio.

“Our collaboration with AMSP is a continuation of our efforts at Novartis to combat COVID-19 across the world,” said Vas Narasimhan, CEO of Novartis. “Together, we are aiming to accelerate and expand access to affordable essential medicines in Africa to meet the very urgent patient needs across the continent as it continues battling this pandemic.”

AMSP was developed to ease the difficulties and open up the medical supplies market to Africa, and as part of the Partnership to Accelerate COVID-19 Testing (PACT) of Africa CDC. It integrates African and globally vetted medical suppliers to ensure cost-effectiveness and transparency in the procurement and distribution of COVID-19 related supplies.

“Following the successful listing of test kits, personal protective equipment, and clinical management devices, the African Union Chairperson has expanded our mandate to include groundbreaking medicines to treat COVID-19 patients in Africa,” said African Union Special Envoy, Strive Masiyiwa. “As a global pharmaceutical leader, Novartis is a strategic partner for AMSP to unlock access to the latest and best-performing medicines for Africans in an affordable way.”

Following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and its spread worldwide, there was a shortage of diagnostics, medical supplies and essential medical equipment such as personal protective equipment for healthcare workers, face masks, ventilators, and many others. Many African governments had severe challenges with the procurement of essential supplies to support their response activities and face stiff competition with the more industrialized countries for the limited available supplies.

As a continental body, we are working with several partners to ensure smooth and predictable access to essential medical supplies,” said Dr John Nkengasong, Director of Africa CDC. “We found that during the Ebola outbreak in 2014, many people died because of Ebola but not due to Ebola. This is because they did not have access to essential medicines needed for treatment.  With AMSP, countries don’t have to search the market for supplies. The prices are negotiated and fixed to unlock the supply space.”

The Novartis Pandemic Response Portfolio from Sandoz, the generics and biosimilar division of Novartis, comprises 15 medicines: Amoxicillin, Ceftriaxone, Clarithromycin, Colchicine, Dexamethasone, Dobutamine, Fluconazole, Heparin, Levofloxacin, Loperamide, Pantoprazole, Prednisone, Prednisolone, Salbutamol, Vancomycin. The portfolio was launched in July 2020 and sells medicines at zero-profit to governments, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and other institutional customers in up to 79 eligible countries to address the urgent unmet needs of low-and lower-middle-income countries for medicines to be used for symptomatic treatment at various stages of COVID-19. Eligible countries must be included on the World Bank’s list of LICs & LMICs.

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