A few months ago, a novel virus brought the world to a sudden and screeching halt, impacting every aspect of life. Patients, healthcare professionals and communities are struggling to cope with over-flowing hospitals, a lack of treatment or interruptions to care, shortages of medical supply, compromised access to treatments, quarantining, and isolation from family and friends. Access to healthcare just got a lot more complicated.
Sandoz, the Novartis generics and biosimilars division, has previously shown its commitment to pioneering patient access to healthcare with projects such as the Sandoz Healthcare Access Challenge (HACk) as well as a global collaboration with World Child Cancer, among other initiatives. Now, during this global healthcare crisis, Sandoz is committed to doing its part for patients, healthcare professionals and communities by establishing a number of new initiatives to overcome access challenges.
Ensuring patient access to critical medicines
The pandemic has put enormous pressure on critical medicine safety stocks. Healthcare workers are using every tool available to treat COVID-19 and related (or secondary) infections, resulting in a heavy pull on several medicines, including antibiotics. The pull on the system has been significant with increased demand for key medicines from patients and governments. Sandoz was the first company to commit to maintaining stable prices for a number of essential medicines that may help treat COVID-19.
“I strongly feel the generics industry has a particular responsibility right now to ensure that patients can get the medicines they need,” said Richard Saynor, Sandoz CEO. “That’s why, despite current uncertainties about how the supply situation will evolve, Sandoz has committed to keep prices stable for certain essential medicines it markets commercially, which may help in the treatment of coronavirus cases, specifically antivirals to reduce the impact of coronavirus and antibiotics to combat pneumonia.”
In addition, Sandoz and other healthcare companies have partnered with Direct Relief to deliver packages of critical medications and supplies to support intensive care units (ICUs). Direct Relief is a humanitarian organization working to help people affected by poverty or emergencies. The packages contained medicines requested by critical care specialists. Click here to read more.
Improving outcomes for COVID-19 patients through virtual capacity building for health workers
Healthcare professionals are under tremendous pressure to treat the high volume of COVID-19 patients, while at the same time lacking a complete treatment plan or a proven cure for the virus. To help enable the best care for patients, Sandoz launched a new webcast series for healthcare professionals to improve their capacity and capability to treat the illness.
The first webcasts reached over 10,000 healthcare professionals globally, including general practitioners, specialists, and pharmacists. Speakers included Prof. Galli on the COVID-19 situation in Milan, Italy, and Dr. Bernardino and Prof. Rios of Hospital La Paz in Madrid, Spain. Click here for more information.
Ensuring continuity of care for cancer patients in vulnerable communities
The variety of complications caused by the COVID-19 pandemic threaten the continuity of care for some more vulnerable patient groups, such as those living with cancer. For a number of years, Sandoz has partnered with World Child Cancer to improve diagnosis and access to treatment for children suffering from cancer in low- and middle-income countries.
To take this further, while also supporting parents and children restricted to their homes at this time, Sandoz launched an internal drawing campaign called “#Children4Children” to raise funds for World Child Cancer and the patients they support. Each piece of art submitted by a child of a Sandoz employee resulted in a five Euro donation. For many weeks, internal employee social media was filled with the children’s inspiring and creative art.
“I was really touched by the strong engagement and fantastic creativity of the children and their strong desire to help,” said Rebecca Guntern, Head of Europe, Sandoz. “The response was amazing, and in less than four weeks we received around 1,000 drawings of creative art. With their great support we will donate EUR 10,000 to World Child Cancer and its work with children in the Philippines.”
Sandoz South Africa is also working to do more for vulnerable patient populations. Associates have been collecting non-perishable food items to support the CHOC Childhood Cancer Foundation South Africa. CHOC aims to save lives through early detection and making the journey of those who are affected by childhood cancer, less burdensome through the comprehensive support programs.
“We have long-standing partnerships with cancer patient support groups in our community, so we were already aware of the negative impact of financial crisis on treatment and recovery,” said Lynn Robinson, Sandoz South Africa.
Helping communities stay healthy and safe
The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in various shortages and restrictions, complicating efforts to prevent the disease or to access medicines in traditional ways. In Italy, Sandoz and Novartis partnered with PHARMAP to provide a medicines delivery service for free. The first of its kind in Italy, the app enables prescription and non-prescription medicines delivery to patients at home.
In Slovenia, Sandoz and Novartis associates at the manufacturing site in Menges are typically busy producing medicines. Recently, they added producing disinfectant to their work. Associates prepared and bottled more than 19,000 liters of isopropanol (70% concentration) and donated it to more than 70 health institutions, care homes and local communities throughout Slovenia.
Sandoz is committed to continuing its support of patient access to healthcare, even in the most difficult of times.