New collaboration between Novartis and Africa Medical Supplies Platform to facilitate supply of COVID-19 related medicines

NovartisNovartis 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(1).

About Novartis

Novartis is reimagining medicine to improve and extend people’s lives. As a leading global medicines company, we use innovative science and digital technologies to create transformative treatments in areas of great medical need. In our quest to find new medicines, we consistently rank among the world’s top companies investing in research and development. Novartis products reach nearly 800 million people globally and we are finding innovative ways to expand access to our latest treatments. About 109,000 people of more than 140 nationalities work at Novartis around the world.

About AMSP

The Africa Medical Supplies Platform (AMSP) is a non-profit initiative launched by the African Union as an immediate, integrated and practical response to the Covid-19 pandemic. The online platform was developed under the leadership of the African Union Special Envoy, Strive Masiyiwa and powered by Janngo on behalf of the African Union’s Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) and in partnership with African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) and United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) with the support of leading African & international Institutions, Foundations & Corporations as well as Governments of China, Canada & France.

About Janngo

Janngo builds, grows and invests in pan-African digital champions with proven business models and inclusive social impact. It builds digital ecosystems in high growth sectors by providing business support and digital platforms allowing Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to scale and contribute to the economic empowerment of youth and women through job creation and capacity building.

About Africa CDC

Africa CDC is a specialized technical institution of the African Union that strengthens the capacity and capability of Africa’s public health institutions as well as partnerships to detect and respond quickly and effectively to disease threats and outbreaks, based on data-driven interventions and programmes.

1. https://datahelpdesk.worldbank.org/knowledgebase/articles/906519-world-bank-country-and-lending-groups

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