Speaker Series: Dorje Mundle of Novartis

Can multi-national pharmaceutical companies tackle the systemic challenges of global health for the poor?  Wait a minute…should they even be trying?  Dorje Mundle, tadalafil Global Head of Corporate Citizenship at Novartis, vialis 40mg asked these questions and more during his visit this week to the Skoll Centre.

First, capsule what are some of the challenges?
Poverty, lack of health education, limited numbers of heath care providers, and barriers to resources (e.g. infrastructure/medicines) are all big factors. Philanthropy is not enough, policies need to be changed, and new technologies need to be implemented.

So, how does big business fit into the picture?
I think it’s safe to say that Dorje and Novartis believe sourcing and driving innovation is one of its key roles.  In its Arogya Parivar initiative (“Healthy Family” in Hindi), Novartis is implementing a social business model in rural India.  It strives to increases both accessibility of health education and medicines and promotes health seeking behaviour for 42 million people at the base of the pyramid.

How does Novartis do this?

It’s a two pronged approach:
1.    The first focuses on community healthcare education activities.  Community meetings and health camps are run to teach about prevention and health on a general level (never about brands).  Consultants are also on hand with medicines to increase accessibility and lower costs (travel/time) for health camp attendees.  In addition, products are tailored to the villagers (small quantities mean lower prices and packaging in local languages is a plus).  And most importantly, all of this is done by locals in local dialects while external advisors are used to make sure information is factually correct.

2.    The second focuses on the business model.  Obviously, the health educators drive demand (as health seeking behaviour increases).  The product portfolio is communicated to doctors and pharmacists and systems are implemented to ensure supply chain continuity (stock-outs are not good).  Add in external MFIs providing loans to pharmacies and doctors, and you’ve got a model that’s going places.

Or is it?  Should Novartis continue with this innovative model?  Will it be able to continue/increase its slim profits?  Are there more conflicts of interest or ethical concerns that haven’t been addressed?  Are more partners needed?  In general, is it “appropriate” for multi-national corporations to be operating in this space?

Personally, I think it’s a great step.  The challenges of global health aren’t getting smaller and traditional methods of solving them aren’t keeping up.  Maybe what we need, as Dorje showed us, is a bit of creativity and experimentation along the way.