Pharma News in Global Health and Sustainability

A roundup of developments in global health and sustainability from the bio/pharmaceutical industry, its suppliers, and other public and private organizations.
Jun 05, 2013
By Pharmaceutical Technology Editors
Volume 9, Issue 6

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) will contribute $750,000 to the One Million Community Health Workers Campaign, to create a new online “Operations Room” that will track the scale-up of community health workers and serve as a central database of information for the campaign, which is working with ministries of health in Africa to train, equip, and deploy health workers to provide basic healthcare. By upgrading the quality and expanding the numbers of community health worker systems to provide national coverage, the campaign hopes to help sub-Saharan African countries achieve the health-related Union Nations’ (UN) Millennium Development Goals by 2015. The Operations Room will help identify gaps in the systems and facilitate national and local government agencies’ coordination with UN agencies, private corporations, and nongovernmental organizations. The Operations Room will be located in Nairobi and Senegal in Africa New York, where the Earth Institute is based. GSK’s support will be directed to the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), which is running the One Million Community Health Workers Campaign as part of its Solutions Initiative. The SDSN is overseen by a steering committee at the Earth Institute; Earth Institute Director Jeffrey Sachs is also director of the SDSN.

In other news, GSK is partnering with Save the Children to reduce child mortality. The GSK–Save the Children partnership will focus on widening vaccine coverage to poor children, increase investment in health workers, and develop a low-cost nutritional product to help combat child malnutrition. Save the Children will also have a seat on a newly created GSK pediatric board that will address R&D for diseases affecting children under five in the developing world as well as provide ways to increase access to medicines. GSK will also reformulate the antiseptic chlorhexidine, found in its Corsodyl mouthwash, as a means to prevent infection at birth. The flagship program will run initially in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Kenya. These programs will be monitored and scaled for other countries within Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia and Latin America. GSK is encouraging its employees to raise £1 million ($1.5 million) a year, which will be matched by GSK. Through this and other charitable donations to Save the Children, GSK has committed to donate at least £15 million ($23 million) over the course of the partnership. Additional contributions will be made through specific research and development programs.

GSK also announced a new commitment to the GAVI Alliance to supply its cervical cancer vaccine as part of a new long-term program to vaccinate girls against cervical cancer in developing countries. GSK will supply doses of Cervarix (human papillomavirus vaccine [Types 16, 18] (recombinant, adjuvanted, adsorbed)) to four new GAVI demonstration projects at a discounted price of $4.60 per dose. This latest commitment adds to existing agreements by GSK to supply up to 480 million doses of its pneumococcal vaccine to GAVI during the next 10 years and 132 million doses of its rotavirus vaccine to GAVI over the next five years.

GSK further announced funding of up to £5 million ($7.7 million) from the Wellcome Trust to support its open approach to discovering and developing new treatments for diseases of the developing world. The funding will focus on diseases, such as tuberculosis, malaria, leishmaniasis, and sleeping sickness. Work will be centered at GSK’s facility in Tres Cantos, Madrid, where it houses its Open Lab, where external researchers work with GSK scientists to develop drugs for the developing world.

Merck & Ço. has offered its support for the United Nation Fundation’s program, Pledge Guarantee for Health (PGH), a new financing mechanism designed to expedite the disbursement of donor funds, making global health supplies more accessible and more affordable for developing countries. The United States Agency for International Development and the Swedish International Agency for Development Cooperation are scaling up PGH with a five-year partial guarantee to help speed up the procurement of essential medicines and health supplies by governments and civil society partners. In collaboration with commercial banking partners, this partial guarantee enables PGH to access $100 million in credit over five years to build lending capacity. Merck and the global public health company Vestergaard Frandsen will provide upfront price discounts to aid recipients who use PGH to purchase their health supplies.

Merck & Co. has launched in India, Merck for Mothers, its global initiative for helping reduce maternal mortality. Merck for Mothers is a 10-year, $500-million global initiative launched in 2011. In India, Merck is partnering with three nongovernmental organizations to improve the quality of healthcare that pregnant women receive through the private sector. The Hindustan Latex Family Planning Promotion Trust, Pathfinder International with World Health Partners, and the White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood with Gram Vaani collectively will reach nearly 500,000 pregnant women in Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Jharkhand, areas in India with high rates of maternal mortality. Merck for Mothers and its partners are working to accelerate India’s progress toward the UN Millennium Development Goal Five to reduce the global maternal mortality rate by 75% by 2015.

Novartis reports that GBCHealth, a coalition of more than 230 private-sector companies working to improve global health, has awarded the company's Arogya Parivar program the Business Action on Health Award for Application of Core Competence . Arogya Parivar is a sustainable business model that makes affordable, high-quality medicines accessible to underserved people in India. The program also expands access to health education and consultations in remote villages. Arogya Parivar is a for-profit social business developed by Novartis that adapts a market-based approach to improve healthcare access for India's rural poor. Novartis trains health educators, who teach communities about health and disease prevention, and sales supervisors, who increase local medicine access across several therapeutic areas by informing local pharmacists about products. Since launching Arogya Parivar in 2007, Novartis has trained more than 500 health educators and supervisors and improved access to healthcare for 42 million patients across 33,000 villages in India. Novartis is working to further expand the social business model in 2014.

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