Over the last two decades, the prevalence of non-communicable diseases globally has increased substantially for a variety of reasons, including population aging and increased exposure to risk factors such as tobacco use, harmful use of alcohol, physical inactivity, and unhealthy diets. Globalization and rapid urbanization have accelerated the exposure to these risk factors. The costs of NCDs are not limited to patients; these diseases are increasingly a burden on developing economies, affecting people in the prime of their lives.

Treatment of NCDs and prevention of complications largely depends on medication. However, health systems in most developing countries have been geared towards treatment of acute rather than chronic diseases. These countries now face tremendous challenges in managing growing the NCD burden.

In September 2015, government representatives and heads of states met at the United Nations in New York to approve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Goal 3 focuses on health: “Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.” During this meeting the healthcare company Novartis launched Novartis Access. The main activity of Novartis Access is the direct sale of low-cost NCD medicines to public sector and not-for-profit purchasers in program countries, and to provide a basket of 15 medicines for the treatment of NCDs in 30 countries over the next 5 years.

Boston University researchers will evaluate the impact of Novartis Access on the availability and price of NCD medicines at facility and household levels. This evaluation will look at beneficiaries of the program in terms of income category. This project has been informed by a systematic review of prior industry-supported access initiatives.