Humans are no strangers to diseases. And while we have made progress in tackling them, we are far from achieving universal healthcare. As recently as five years ago, at least half of the world’s population could not obtain basic essential health services (WHO).
If we look at the roster of healthcare issues at hand, every year, 17 million people die from a non-communicable disease (NCD), that is, seven out of 10 deaths in the world are because of NCDs. What’s worse is that 86% of these are premature deaths, occurring in low- and middle-income countries. Adding to this is the burden of infectious diseases. Twenty-six low-income countries are malaria-endemic and account for 90% of cases and deaths (WHO). Twenty-six million people with HIV live in developing nations (UNAIDS). Worldwide, tuberculosis is the second leading infectious killer after COVID-19 (WHO). And the recent COVID-19 pandemic is likely to halt 20 years of global progress towards universal health coverage. It has triggered a worrying economic crisis since the 1930s and disrupted health services (World Bank), mainly among communities that require it the most.
Today, the world is gasping for good health.
A united front to expand healthcare
Realizing the critical juncture that we are in, a few months into the pandemic, two legacy companies, Mylan Laboratories and Upjohn came together to form Viatris – a global healthcare organization with a mission of empowering people worldwide to live healthier at every stage of life by improving access to medicine regardless of geography or circumstance. The company firmly believes in the indispensable role of good treatment and mainly, access to it, at the right time. Precisely why, Viatris is firmly positioned in the Emerging Markets, a region comprising of 25 countries with a diverse range of socioeconomic conditions and healthcare needs. Within two years, they have pushed the boundaries by improving access to sustainable and high-quality medicines for around five billion people in these markets.
While we are witnessing impressive innovation in healthcare, all too often, the results of it reach only a fraction of the patients who need them. This is where Viatris is helping bridge the gap. A comprehensive portfolio and vast supply chain positions them to meet patient needs around the world. Their Emerging Markets portfolio, in fact, addresses a broad range of therapeutic areas, with over half of it focusing on NCD treatments and a third on antiretroviral drugs. These treatments have been developed through their strong R&D, manufacturing, regulatory, commercial, and legal capabilities. They are making these resources available to regional partners to serve more patients. For instance, in the Emerging Markets, they have worked with TB Alliance to provide affordable treatment for multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis and have collaborated with various other NGOs to offer antiretroviral drugs to HIV patients. Most recently, under Egypt’s Tahya Misr program, they sponsored approximately one million Hepatitis C screening kits at low cost. They also partnered with various local specialist companies and governments across the markets to provide access to SARS-CoV-2 Antibody Test (Lateral Flow Method). This helped increase the number of tests being conducted across the region and enabled governments to closely monitor the progress of COVID-19.
It’s also important to note that among NCDs, mental health illnesses are regarded as one of the top killers. And Viatris is leveraging its network of local healthcare entities to address this need. In the Middle East and Philippines, they partnered with Sesame Workshop to provide online resources to support the social and emotional needs of families and caregivers as they battled the onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Expanding access to treatment through people and policy
To make a real impact, health systems need to work in collaboration with internal and external stakeholders. And this includes the government. Viatris has been actively engaging with local governments to accelerate change in policy. A case at hand is their work in India, where they advocated to reverse the government’s ban on manufacturing oxytocin for domestic use. This significantly reduced the risk of childbirth complications for both mother and child.
It’s a known fact that think tanks are equally important when it comes to effective policy change. Viatris has instituted its own NCD Think Tank, to improve NCD outcomes by advocating for stakeholders’ support and co-designing approaches to beyond-the-pill solutions.
The road ahead
On the second anniversary of the company, it’s paramount to recognize the efforts of Viatris’ workforce in ensuring the seamless and end-to-end product manufacturing, distribution, and innovation process. It is they who have helped translate ideas into action - from the minds of scientists to the labs that create them.
Currently, the company produces approximately 80 billion doses of medicine a year, ranking them among the top five companies in the Emerging Markets for cardiovascular, pain, antiretroviral, and a variety of other medicines. By fusing passion and focus with expertise and strong partnerships, Viatris is committed to making a difference in the lives of patients everywhere.