Novartis resumes remote business in Ukraine after safety protocol review
Months after a slate of pharma companies slammed the brakes on some operations in both Russia and Ukraine, Novartis announced that it’s resuming business remotely in Ukraine “to help the war-torn country restore some basic critical business processes.”
Novartis came to the decision after studying safety protocols and receiving advice “which we will regularly review,” the company said on Wednesday.
“The safety and security of our people remains our number one objective, and we will constantly review the situation and our business operations in Ukraine,” the company said in a statement.
The pharma giant once again condemned the war, which has triggered Europe’s largest refugee crisis since World War II and taken more than 4,000 civilian lives, according to the UN.
Novartis joined several Big Pharma companies in taking action against Russia back in March, suspending capital investments, media advertising and other promotional activities in the country. And while it promised to continue supplying medicine to Russia, it paused the initiation of new clinical trials and the enrollment of new participants in existing trials.
At the time, J&J, GSK, Merck, Bristol Myers Squibb and Roche had already put new site activation and new patient enrollment on hold in Russia. A handful of companies — including Merck, AstraZeneca, GSK, Bristol Myers Squibb, Pfizer and others — also suspended enrollment in some Ukraine trials.
Back in March, clinicaltrials.gov listed more than 600 ongoing trials in various recruiting stages with at least one study site in Ukraine. In April, the EMA issued new guidance designed to help sponsors of ongoing studies navigate disruptions that are expected to continue.
Over the last few months, Novartis has delivered more than 1.3 million packs of antibiotics, painkillers, and cardiovascular and oncology treatments — worth more than $33 million — to Ukraine and its refugees in border countries. The company has also donated $3 million to charities supporting refugees and is giving another $1 million to patient organizations, which help patients get treatment abroad, translate medical reports, and disseminate knowledge of hospitals ready to admit patients.
“Our team in Ukraine is eager to come back to their work, and to play their part in maintaining our priority to ensure that those in need of life-changing medicines gain the best possible support from Novartis and Sandoz,” Novartis said.