Global Healthcare on the Ground: Roche Takes on Illnesses in LDCs

Published on: 
Pharmaceutical Technology, Pharmaceutical Technology-05-02-2011, Volume 35, Issue 5

Efforts are made to educate health workers in less developed countries.

Pharmaceutical global health initiatives play a big role in educating health workers in least developed countries (LDCs) by providing the skills and tools necessary to develop life-saving drugs and to limit the spread of disease. Roche is just one pharmaceutical company involved in such efforts around the world. The company's collaborations and partnerships with government and other healthcare providers, as well as their own initiatives, have influenced health movements that are benefiting local communities globally.

Waiting area for the Roche Health Clinic on the Phelophepa train.

The EDUCARE (EDUcation for Cancer in African Regions) project is a partnership that began in April 2010, between Roche and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to address the shortage of trained healthcare professionals in the oncology field in Africa. The program is governed and managed by a committee of representatives from Roche, IAEA, and the World Health Organization (WHO). The committee's main priority is to establish a Regional African Cancer Training network (RACT). The network would link cancer centers within sub-Saharan Africa to strengthen the transfer of knowledge to a broader group of healthcare workers. The project will also focus on the use of IAEA's Virtual University for Cancer Control (VUCC), which will serve as an online university and mentoring community across Africa. Roche and IAEA have committed to a five-year pilot of VUCC in Ghana, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia.


In 2006, Roche committed to an AIDS Technology Transfer Initiative to provide companies in LDCs and sub-Saharan Africa with free, on-site technical help to manufacture generic versions of the company's drug Invirase, a second- line protease inhibitor that hinders viral replication of HIV-1 and HIV-2. Developing countries face an increasing need for second-line treatments and, with the training and knowledge exchanged provided by Roche, companies in LDCs are now able to produce these drugs locally. In 2008, Roche expanded this initiative with a series of pan-African training seminars for local manufacturers. Attendees learned how to better comply with cGMPs in their therapeutic areas.

In July 2009, Roche announced the Tamiflu Reserves Program (TRP) for developing countries. The program ensures that, should WHO declare an influenza pandemic, Tamiflu will be readily available to governments and

patients in developing nations. Under the program, Roche produces and stores Tamiflu stockpiles for developing countries at a reduced cost. Qualifying countries for the program include most members of the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunizations.

The partnership programs that Roche participate in, such as those highlighted here, focus heavily on education for medical and scientific professionals and patients as well making healthcare more accessible to those who cannot obtain it, either because of financial or geographical challenges.

According to Roche spokesperson Claudia Schmitt, the company's approach to working in partnerships is "to find the most feasible ways of removing barriers within the ethical, legal, regulatory and commercial constraints that determine the delivery of healthcare in that country." She adds that this approach has "established a transparent policy for all our medicines so intellectual property is not a barrier to any of our medicines in the world's Least Developed Countries."