With the Indian public healthcare apparatus straining at the seams to provide affordable access to treatments to the country’s vast population, two pioneering pharmaceutical multinationals – Novartis and Janssen – have stepped up with innovative initiatives to fill the gaps.
“Economists such as Michael Porter see Arogya Parivar as a prime example of a business model that creates economic value in a way that also creates value for society by addressing its needs and challenges.”
Jawed Zia, Novartis
India’s public healthcare infrastructure is, for the most part, unable to serve the needs of the second most populous nation on earth. According to a recent KPMG report, “around 80 percent of all doctors and 75 percent of dispensaries serve only 28 percent of the total population of India.” While policy makers have long debated over demand-related healthcare issues rather than supply-side gaps; prominent foreign names have been stepping up to meet patient needs across the country.
Swiss giant Novartis launched Arogya Parivar (“healthy family” in Hindi), its first social business model, in 2007. Jawed Zia of Novartis India explains that the program is organized into cells that currently total 239. Each cell – covering 35-40 km – includes 60 to 75 villages and small towns with around 200,000 inhabitants. Today, the program operates across 11 Indian states, covering some 14,000 villages and small towns that are home to more than 32 million people.
Arogya Parivar broke even in less than three years and has been sustainable ever since, meeting both its commercial and social targets. It is expected to reach 44 million people through health education meetings and health camps by 2022. Zia points out that “economists such as Michael Porter see Arogya Parivar as a prime example of a business model that creates economic value in a way that also creates value for society by addressing its needs and challenges.”
Another Big Pharma behemoth, Janssen, has focused on helping solve the problem of tuberculosis in India (TB). India bears a large burden of the world’s TB rates, and the disease continues to be the biggest health problem in the country, alongside diabetes.
Janssen’s Sanjiv Navangul describes how the company has set up a successful partnership with the Revised National Tuberculosis Control program. Thanks to this, a Conditional Access Program (CAP) was established, providing bedaquiline – a ground-breaking TB treatment – free-of-charge for 600 patients across six sites in India in 2016 Earlier in 2017, Janssen confirmed that this program would be expanded to additional TB patients across 156 sites. This is only a small part of the added-value that multinational companies are bringing to the Indian subcontinent and an example of their commitment to fill the gaps in the healthcare access space.
Writer: Luca Nardini