Pioneering cancer access programme for people in lower-income countries | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, October 01, 2017 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, October 01, 2017

Pioneering cancer access programme for people in lower-income countries

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Novartis announced a new collaboration with The Max Foundation to support continued access to treatment at no cost for nearly 34,000 current patients with chronic myeloid leukemia (CML), gastrointestinal tumors (GIST) and other rare cancers, says a press release.

The two organisations have been long-time collaborators in providing access to care for patients in lower-income countries through the Glivec International Patient Assistance Programme (GIPAP), one of the most innovative patient assistance programmes ever implemented on a global scale.

The new collaboration, called CMLPath to Care, is an evolution from GIPAP, a partnership that provided Glivec Imatinib at no cost to diagnosed patients in lower-income countries where there may not be access to reimbursement or funding mechanisms, and to those unable to pay for the medication.

Under the new initiative, The Max Foundation, a global, patient-focused, non-governmental organisation (NGO), will assume from Novartis the responsibility for delivering the treatment to these patients, including supply chain management. Novartis will provide funding and drug donation support. The collaborative agreement runs through Q1 2021 with an option to extend. During this timeframe, Novartis expects to donate more than $29 million to the collaboration, along with approximately 315,000,000 doses of medicine.

Novartis introduced GIPAP in 2002 after recognising the impact of its breakthrough cancer therapy, Glivec. The programme has served the CML treatment needs of approximately 75,000 people since its inception.

The goal of CMLPath to Care is to help people living with CML by connecting them and their carers with effective treatments, professional medical capabilities, trained physicians and hands-on support.

The Max Foundation provided CML patients with psychosocial support and education, services that did not previously exist in certain countries. Over time, changes in local infrastructures and capabilities, new and innovative treatments, and the growth and impact of patient groups prompted Novartis and The Max Foundation to recognise that a new, more flexible approach to access was needed.

With CMLPath to Care, Novartis will provide access to Glivec in nearly 70 countries, and in a subset of countries second-line Tasigna (nilotinib) therapy will be available for approved indications. The Max Foundation will manage the entire medicine supply chain and interactions with local stakeholders under the umbrella of Max Access Solutions, while continuing to provide hands-on, local patient support.

CMLPath to Care is one of the broadest cancer treatment access initiatives led by a patient-centred NGO. During the last 15 years, the Novartis-Max Foundation partnership created and maintained a standard of care in many lower-income countries that may not have otherwise been possible for people with CML. In this new model — as in GIPAP — the medicine is provided at no cost for individual patients. This contrasts with more traditional humanitarian programmes that provide bulk donations of a medicine.

The Max Foundation is unique among NGOs in its ability to manage the complex administration of individual patient care. The transition to CMLPath to Care includes The Max Foundation's assumption of programme administration, supply chain management and oversight of the nearly 34,000 patients, 1,400 physicians, and 450 treatment centres in nearly 70 countries on four continents.

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