Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Innovative Treatments: Bristol Myers Squibb Announces Ten-Year ASPIRE Strategy to Improve Access in Low- and Middle-Income Countries

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Innovative treatments are at the heart of Bristol Myers Squibb’s (BMS) newly unveiled ten-year ASPIRE program, designed to enhance their availability in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). The initiative aims to reach over 200,000 patients in these countries by 2033, building on BMS’s commitment to enhancing global healthcare equity.

The ASPIRE (Accessibility, Sustainability, Patient-centric, Impact, Responsibility, and Equity) program is designed to expand BMS’s efforts in making its drugs more accessible and affordable in LMICs. This initiative follows BMS’s foundational role in the Access to Oncology Medicines (ATOM) Coalition, which targets 46 countries across Africa, Asia, Central and South America, Europe, and Oceania. The ASPIRE program is a critical component of BMS’s strategy to bridge the gap in healthcare access between high-income and lower-income countries.

BMS will initially introduce Opdivo (nivolumab), an immunotherapy drug, through a sustainable access model in selected countries, including Pakistan, Rwanda, and Zambia. By 2026, BMS plans to extend this integrated access pathway to additional LMICs, enhancing the reach of its innovative treatments.

Under the ASPIRE program, BMS commits to developing access pathways for all its marketed products in target countries. The company has already launched local brands of several innovative medicines in some LMICs to address affordability issues, expand access, and reduce the time lag between availability in high-income and lower-income countries. In 2023 alone, BMS submitted applications for 11 local brands, with five receiving marketing authorizations. For example, Rojusna (luspatercept), an emerging markets brand of Reblozyl, has been introduced in countries like Thailand, which has a high prevalence of beta thalassemia.

In LMICs where BMS does not have a commercial presence, the company will utilize direct import and direct-to-institution (DTI) pathways to distribute its medicines. The direct import route will offer access to 12 drugs in over 80 LMICs, using tiered pricing linked to affordability. The DTI pathway will work with local organizations to ensure broad and timely access to medications. Priority countries for 2025 include Pakistan and four African nations, with plans to expand to 15 LMICs by 2026.

Innovative Treatments

Innovative Treatments: Access to Medicine Index 2022 Highlights BMS’s Global Access Efforts and Recommendations

The Access to Medicine Index 2022 highlighted BMS’s efforts in publishing its first-ever Global Access Report, which reviewed the company’s initiatives to make its drugs available worldwide. The Index recommended that BMS ensure comprehensive access plans for all late-stage R&D projects and suggested that access plans for Opdivo and Pomalyst (pomalidomide) include measures such as equitable pricing. Furthermore, the Index proposed expanding access to Sprycel (dasatinib) through registration, equitable pricing, and non-exclusive voluntary licensing agreements in more countries.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida spoke of the need for reforms to “address the rising trend of the ratio of social security benefits to GDP.” Encouraging the use of innovative drugs that are highly cost-effective is one of the keys to such change. State Finance Minister Ryosei Akazawa concurred: “From the perspective of promoting evidence-based medicine, we should review the use of medicines to a data-based system through the use of cost-effectiveness evaluations.”

BMS’s ASPIRE program is a significant step towards addressing global health disparities by improving access to life-saving medicines in underserved regions. By leveraging its partnerships and innovative distribution strategies, BMS aims to create a more equitable healthcare landscape, ensuring that patients in LMICs can benefit from the latest advancements in medical science.

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In conclusion, the ASPIRE program represents BMS’s commitment to enhancing global health equity by making its innovative treatments more accessible and affordable in LMICs. Through sustainable access models, direct import, and DTI pathways, BMS aims to reach over 200,000 patients by 2033. This initiative underscores the company’s dedication to addressing the healthcare needs of underserved populations and contributing to the realization of resilient and inclusive healthcare systems worldwide.

Resource: Bristol Myers Squibb, May 22, 2024

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