Affordability

We are working to bring our medicines and vaccines to people around the world in ways that are as accessible and affordable as possible for the patients who need them.

Highlights
  • Our country teams address affordability through many channels, developing innovative financing solutions that address the needs of the patient. In Vietnam, we implemented a pilot project to provide innovative access to human papillomavirus (HPV) prevention for more women in a targeted employment sector. In South Africa, we have developed an affordability solution focused on access to oncology products.
  • In 2019, we reached an estimated 400 million people globally through our product donation and patient assistance programs and partnerships
  • Following our long-standing policy, in 2019, we did not file any patents in low-income countries
Our commitments
  • We are committed to developing and implementing dedicated affordability solutions to enable greater access to our medicines and vaccines for those who need them around the world
  • We will expand access to our products through dedicated, market-based affordability solutions that allow flexibility to reach at-need populations and patients—including those in low-income and middle-income countries—taking into consideration public health needs, economic conditions and health care infrastructure
  • In low-income countries, we will continue our long-standing policy of not filing for product patents
  • When market-based solutions are inadequate or unavailable, we will pursue programs to provide direct access to our medicines and vaccines, including product donations and patient assistance programs

Grounded in a deliberate systematic approach, we develop, test and implement innovative solutions that address barriers to access and affordability of our medicines and vaccines.

This enables us to serve the greatest number of patients today, while meeting the needs of patients in the future. Where appropriate, we pursue these solutions in partnership with private, governmental, multi-lateral or non-profit organizations.

Our approach

Dedicated affordability solutions

We expand access to our products through dedicated, market-based affordability solutions that allow flexibility to reach at-need populations and patients—including those in Low-Income and Middle-Income countries (LMICs)—taking into consideration public health need, economic conditions and health care infrastructure.

In order to identify the unique needs when addressing affordability in LMICs, we have developed a comprehensive framework that methodically guides our teams through the process of identifying an affordability solution that would work best for a specific country’s needs. Our 3D Framework uses designed thinking principles to guide teams through implementation utilizing an agile methodology. The 3D Framework, addressing the ability or willingness to pay, is designed to diagnose the true affordability challenge, design a sustainable solution for the country and develop a delivery strategy for the solution identified. This framework is built to address the affordability challenges at the payer as well as the patient level, and spans our entire portfolio of products including vaccines, oncology, and hospital and specialty products.

Our portfolio of affordability projects spans across 40 countries, and is in various stages of development, from diagnosing the affordability solution to delivering it to the market. Our country teams in LMICs also address affordability through many channels, developing innovative financing solutions that address the needs of the patient.

For example, in Vietnam, where 50 percent of the eligible population has experienced barriers to accessing HPV prevention, our team developed a project to address these barriers, targeting both the affordability gap and awareness raising. The pilot project aims to provide innovative access to HPV prevention for more Vietnamese women in a targeted employment sector while, at the same time, paving the way for strategic partnerships, which is unique for the Vietnamese health care market. The collaboration and financial solution allow engagement with labor unions, who represent a key health care access stakeholder for the target population.

In South Africa, we have developed an affordability solution focused on access to oncology products. South Africa is a country with the highest Gini coefficient (measurement of economic inequality) in the world with 85 percent of the population reliant on state health care facilities. The KEYTRUDA® (pembrolizumab) state program is designed to be made available to all patients treated at state oncology facilities. This program allows state hospitals in South Africa to treat patients who would not otherwise have access to innovative oncology therapy such as KEYTRUDA. Access is provided through innovative contracting with tertiary hospitals while addressing affordability challenges in the South African state sector.

To holistically address affordability, we recognize targeted and coordinated action from all stakeholders is needed. Where appropriate, we pursue solutions in partnership with private, governmental, multi-lateral or non-profit organizations.

Direct access

While we are committed to developing and implementing dedicated affordability solutions to reach at-need populations and patients, we recognize there are still additional patients in need of access. Thus, when market-based solutions are inadequate or unavailable, we pursue programs to provide direct access to our medicines and vaccines for eligible patients who cannot afford their medications. We are committed to donating our medicines and vaccines through organized needs-based programs, as appropriate. The primary programs involving donations of our products are: our Medical Outreach Program, the MECTIZAN® (ivermectin) Donation Program and our U.S.-based Patient Assistance Programs. In 2019, we reached an estimated 400,000,000 people globally through our product donation and patient assistance programs and partnerships.

Performance data

Affordability20152016201720182019
Number of countries where dedicated affordability solutions have been initiated*NRNRNRNR40
People reached globally through product donation and patient assistance programs and partnerships1 (estimate in millions)*NRNRNRNR404
Number of patents filed in low-income countries, as defined by The World Bank in its country and lending groups classifications (annual)*NRNRNRNR 0
NR: Not reported
*New Key Performance Indicators (KPI) reported in 2019 to support refreshed Access to Health Guiding Principles
1Estimate includes product donations through our Company's Office of Corporate Responsibility and Patient Assistance Program.