Novo Nordisk: Differential Pricing on Insulin
Among the targets for UN Millennium Development Goal 8 is a call for partnerships with pharmaceutical companies to provide access to affordable essential drugs in developing countries. Since 2001, Novo Nordisk has offered human insulin to the public health systems in Least Developed Countries (LDCs) at prices which do not to exceed 20% of the average price in Europe, Japan and North America. In 2009, Novo Nordisk offered this pricing scheme to all 49 LDCs, of which 36 used it to buy insulin at or below this price, compared to 32 in 2008. There are 13 LDC countries in which Novo Nordisk is not selling insulin at all. In several cases, the government has not responded to the offer, either because there are no private wholesalers or other partners with which to work, or because wars or political unrest have made it impossible to do business. Unfortunately, there is no way to guarantee that the price at which Novo Nordisk sells the insulin will be reflected in the final price on the pharmacist's shelf. Pilot projects were launched in 2008 in five countries - Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea-Conakry, Mozambique and Tanzania - to investigate barriers to purchasing insulin at the preferential price. Novo Nordisk is working with Ministries of Health and business partners in these countries to influence the distribution process so that the preferential price benefits people with diabetes. Measures include reducing insulin prices on the private market, initiating discussions with local agents to reduce mark-ups, and working with governments to centralize insulin procurement. Based on the outcome of the pilots, these measures will be applied in other LDC countries.