By JOE OMBUOR
NAIROBI, KENYA: The President of Novartis Pharma for Asia/pacific, Middle East and African countries Mr Rainer Boehm on Monday promised to increase his company’s presence in Kenya by scaling up product offerings and recruiting talented new associates.
He disclosed that Novartis was currently working with the Nairobi Hospital through a global, patient access program to treat chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) whereby the company fully subsidized the costs of medication for 450 needy Kenyan patients.
The President who was speaking to the press at the Novartis Headquarters in Nairobi’s Upper hill area after a meeting with Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Health Mr James Macharia and his national treasury counterpart Henry Rotich said that besides cancer, Novartis was partnering with Kenyatta National Hospital and expert surgeons in Spain to build a centre of excellence for renal, transplantation in Kenya.
“Already, 99 patients have undergone renal transplant locally, courtesy of this interlife program,” said Mr Boehm adding, “The proposed centre of excellence will be a boon for the entire East African region such that patients of modest income will not have to seek treatment in faraway India.
He said the leprosy initiative done in tandem with the World Health Organization (WHO) had seen Novartis help reduce the incidence of the morbid affliction by 95 per cent.
Mr Boehm who was accompanied by the Executive Vice President and head of malaria initiative at Novartis Pharma Dr Linus Igwemezie said his company had delivered over 75 million Coartem treatments in Kenya since 2006 without profit making the country the second largest recipient of antimalarial Coartem in Sub Saharan Africa. He revealed that Kenya had received 12 per cent of the over 600 million doses dispensed in Sub Saharan Africa.
“To increase access to medicine in rural areas, Novartis has launched familia Nawiri (Kiswahili for healthy families) a program focusing on providing essential medicines at affordable prices,” he said, adding that Novartis Pharma invests heavily in research and development
Dr Igwemezie said two new drugs that will treat malaria at lower dosage were still under clinical development. He said the drugs will not be sourced from plants and will act differently from artemisinin, the group of drugs to which Coartem belongs that currently are known to posses the most rapid action against Plasmodium falciparum malaria.
“Besides, a high strain Coartem (AT/4AT still under research will reduce the total number of tablets in the dosage for adults from 24 to just six. That is how focused we are in the war to eradicate malaria.
Health Cabinet Secretary Macharia said in response that strong public private partnerships would help Kenya make even greater strides in its efforts to improve public health.