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Novartis to supply low cost medicines for chronic diseases in poor countries


Novartis AG has begun a chronic disease program in poor countries, under which it will supply low cost medicines to fight chronic diseases, Reuters reports.

Novatis will supply 15 medicines to Kenya, Ethiopia and Vietnam to fight chronic diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure. The company aims to expand the scheme to 30 developing countries. The drugs that the company will supply include Novartis's valsartan for hypertension, vildagliptin for diabetes, and generics from its Sandoz division including tamoxifen for breast cancer.

Novartis would supply drugs for just $1 per treatment per month to governments, aid groups and others for a range of chronic conditions.

Many firms including Novartis, Roche and GlaxoSmithKline already provide drugs at lower prices in low-income countries than in the developed world.

Novartis chose to launch its scheme in Kenya, Ethiopia and Vietnam because of the problems people there have in obtaining medicines for chronic diseases. Novartis also said that it has a strong presence and ties to non-governmental organizations in these countries

About 85 percent of premature deaths from non-communicable diseases occur in developing countries, as per reports by the United Nations.

Other pharmaceutical companies have also made similar efforts to cut drug costs in the developing world.  In 2009, GlaxoSmithKline agreed to slash drug costs for poor countries, while Roche is working in Ivory Coast to provide medicines for breast cancer and hepatitis.

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