Our aim is for every person who needs our products and solutions to be able to access them. While there have been significant breakthroughs in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer, as well as improvements in the delivery of healthcare, sustainable access to medical innovation and quality healthcare remains a global challenge.

Achieving sustainable access to medicine is complex and multifaceted

There are many factors that contribute to restricting patient access to medicines, beyond price alone. Such factors can include a lack of specialist physicians, a lack of pathology laboratories to diagnose the cancer, or even a lack of hospitals or healthcare facilities to administer the treatment.

Four key factors need to be in place to successfully treat a patient:

Infographic depicting the statement: ‘Four key factors are required for the provision of optimal cancer treatment: disease awareness, diagnosis, healthcare capacity and funding.’
Four key factors are required for the provision of optimal cancer treatment: disease awareness, diagnosis, healthcare capacity and funding.

Disease awareness 

Screening and early detection are critical in the fight against cancer. Awareness of cancer and its symptoms is essential for screening and early detection. Education should focus on the symptoms and risk factors, and the need for innovative diagnostics and new treatment solutions. Examples of the initiatives we have launched include disease awareness campaigns for breast cancer and colorectal cancer in countries such as Algeria, China and Indonesia. 

Diagnosis 

In cancer, as in other disease areas, we are making healthcare spending smarter and more sustainable, through providing diagnostics that drive efficiencies, enable physicians to act earlier and eliminate unnecessary treatments and procedures.

To drive greater access to diagnostics, we are also partnering with organisations around the world to find tailored solutions to barriers. For example, we supported the construction of Cancer Early Diagnosis Screening and Training Centres (KETEMs) in Turkey, which are equipped with the latest diagnostic equipment to conduct screening for breast, cervical and colorectal cancers.

In Asia, we are supporting SPHERE, a comprehensive programme aimed at improving accuracy and reliability of HER2 testing in the region given the growing incidence of breast and gastric cancers. 

Healthcare capacity

Healthcare capacity requires trained teams working together with the right equipment to provide the best chance of successful treatment. A major barrier to access is limited healthcare infrastructure in many countries – such as lack of healthcare facilities and trained healthcare professionals (HCPs).

To improve local capabilities in the most sustainable way, we have established an array of initiatives across the globe. These range from educating and training HCPs and regulators, to helping establish clinics and laboratories, as well as strengthening local manufacturing capabilities. In addition, working with patients and patient organisations is vital for us, as it gives us an insight into the challenges facing them and their families, and the important role that drug therapies play in the management of their disease.

We use these insights to help inform future medicine development, address regulatory approval and reimbursement issues, and most importantly, improve the patient’s cancer journey.

Funding

We recognise that the ability to pay for our products can vary from country to country and consequently, so does the ability to make some of our medicines available.

With this in mind, we are working together with governments and payers to explore new pricing models that are tailored to the needs of each country, such as:

  • Commercial arrangements: offering a range of reimbursement agreements such as volume pricing discounts and rebates.
  • Differential pricing: enabled by providing locally packaged versions of our medicines to local governments at a lower price, thereby improving access to our treatments country-wide.
  • Patient assistance programmes: these aim to help patients gain insurance coverage to provide free medicines or co-pay support for those in financial difficulty.
  • Improving health insurance coverage: we are working together with local insurers in a number of developing countries such as Brazil, China and Mexico to help broaden health insurance policies to include comprehensive cancer care.

“What is clear to us is that solving the access-to-treatment challenge is about more than just price,” said Jens Grüger, Head of Global Pricing & Market Access. “There are many hurdles that we need to overcome which will require working in close partnership with diverse stakeholder groups. It is in the interest of society to open the door to sustainable and equitable access to our diagnostics and medicines for people with cancer around the world.”

See below for examples of how we are working to improve access to healthcare around the world: 

Tags: Oncology