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Press Release

Novartis Donates Hydroxychloroquine to Costa Rican Health Authorities to Fight the COVID-19 Pandemic

APRIL 13th 2020

•Sandoz, Novartis’s generics and biosimilars division, is delivered the first doses of hydroxychloroquine to the Costa Rican Social Security Institute (CCSS), which is organizing its distribution to hospitals. 

•Novartis will also be donating 5,000 face masks and 5,000 pairs of gloves to the CCSS.

•Through the Business Alliance for Development (AED), Novartis will donate the equivalent of $50,000 in colones to help meet the food needs of families affected economically by the pandemic.

San Jose, April 8, 2020. Swiss pharmaceutical firm Novartis announced it will be making a comprehensive donation to Costa Rica to address the three main focuses of the emergency: patients directly affected by COVID-19, frontline health workers, and families suffering the economic consequences of the pandemic. 

Novartis announced the donation of a substantial amount of hydroxychloroquine for treating patients hospitalized with COVID-19 in Costa Rica. The idea is to give patients access to potential treatment and at the same time making progress on clinical research in the fight against COVID-19. Today marks the arrival of the first shipment of this medicine, making Costa Rica one of the first countries to benefit from this initiative. CCSS authorities are overseeing distribution of the medicine to hospitals.

The shipment of hydroxychloroquine donated by Novartis is expected to help CCSS implement a national treatment protocol for all currently hospitalized COVID-19 patients and collect the respective clinical data. Sandoz, Novartis’s generics and biosimilars division, has started delivering today the first doses of the donation to CCSS authorities.  

CCSS’s treatment protocol includes hydroxychloroquine among the treatments recommended for hospitalized patients infected with COVID-19. Various clinical trials are being conducted worldwide to research the effect of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, a related substance, in the treatment of COVID-19. The chemical compound is used to treat malaria and autoimmune diseases such as lupus erythematosus and chronic polyarthritis.

“We are facing an unprecedented situation where we are joining the efforts of the government and society to seek ways to mitigate the current public health crisis and its socioeconomic implications. We recognize the value of working together and are confident this is the only way we will successfully overcome this crisis,” affirmed Pedro N. Afonso, president of the Novartis Group for Central America and the Caribbean. 

Mandred Goyenaga, Sandoz general manager for Central America and the Caribbean, added, “Right now, it’s more important than ever that we fulfill our mission of providing primary health care in Costa Rica. By donating this considerable amount of generic hydroxychloroquine to the CCSS, we are playing our part by making it possible for patients to get a potential treatment, thus helping with clinical research in the fight against COVID-19.”

This donation to Costa Rica is part of Novartis’s commitment to donate 130 million 200-mg doses of hydroxychloroquine worldwide by the end of May, subject to the support of local regulatory authorities for using the medicine for patients infected with COVID -19. Sandoz also intends to work closely with other manufacturers to boost hydroxychloroquine production, if necessary, and to help supply it to countries around the world.

The donation to the CCSS includes, in addition to the hydroxychloroquine, 5,000 three-ply surgical masks with antibacterial filter and 5,000 pairs of nitrile gloves, which were purchased at the end of 2019 for internal Novartis staff use and will be handed over for health workers. 

At the same time, Novartis is preparing a donation of the equivalent of $50,000 in colones to address challenges going beyond health care itself and affecting the most vulnerable population. Through the Business Alliance for Development (AED), Novartis will participate in a business fund aimed at providing food and hygiene and cleaning supplies to affected families.

The fund will be launched in a partnership with the Costa Rican Food Bank, which helps 235 non-governmental organizations that in turn help more than 39,714 direct beneficiaries. The initiative is also joining forces with the Joint Social Assistance Institute (IMAS) to help with home deliveries of food packages to at-risk senior citizens who should be staying home and to those who have been recently laid off due to COVID-related business closings.

 “This is a fantastic initiative of Novartis, a Swiss company committed to helping public health efforts and COVID-19 patients the world over, including Costa Rica, through the speedy delivery of potentially effective medicine. We are confident that the results of this public-private partnering around common interests will become a regular practice once we overcome this difficult time for the entire world,” said the Swiss ambassador in Costa Rica, Mirko Giulietti.

Novartis recently announced a series of initiatives aimed at responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, including the donation of hydroxychloroquine doses, participation in collaborative COVID-19 research and development efforts, and the creation of a fund to help different countries around the world affected by the crisis. 

About Novartis
Novartis is reimagining medicine to improve and extend people’s lives. As a leading global medicine company, we use innovative science and digital technologies to create transformative treatments in areas of great medical need. In our quest to find new medicines, we consistently rank among the world’s top companies investing in research and development. Novartis products reach more than 750 million people globally and we are finding innovative ways to expand access to our latest treatments. About 105,000 people of more than 140 nationalities work at Novartis around the world. For more information, please visit www.novartis.com.