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Helping to advance tomorrow’s care equitably

Véronique Toully, Sustainability
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Véronique Toully, Sustainability, Corporate Affairs and Risk

We believe we have a responsibility to help advance tomorrow’s care together – to contribute to a more sustainable future for people, communities and the planet alike. Last week’s publication of our 2022 Integrated Annual ReportTogether advancing tomorrow’s care – is a mark of that commitment, showing our continued progress to create value for those we serve, now and into the future.

Patients are at the heart of everything we do at UCB. In 2022, we touched the lives of over 3.4 million patients by offering impactful medicines to communities around the globe, so that more people can live their best possible lives.

How do we get medicines to those who need them most? Sustainable access is a cornerstone of how we can make this happen. Our ambition is that by 2030, all people who need our medicines in countries where we operate have access to them in a manner that is viable for society, our investors and UCB. In addition, we aim to improve access to quality care and medicines for people with epilepsy in low- and middle-income geographies around the globe.  These commitments stretch from how we provide and measure access to our solutions, to how we improve health equity among diverse patient groups such as the U.S., to reaching more people living with epilepsy in low- and medium income geographies.

Providing access to our solutions

As our Access Coverage Performance Index shows, more patients were able to secure reimbursement to UCB medicines in countries where we operate, with many of these reimbursement decisions happening faster than an industry benchmark (measured by our Time to Access Index). By working closely with healthcare systems, payers and partners to improve access to our solutions, we can have greater impact on patients and society – with access strategies integrated across our life cycle, from innovation and clinical development through to delivering for people who need our medicines. Every decision is made with an eye to how it affects those who put their trust in us: the people who rely on our medicines, families and caregivers, healthcare providers and payers, without losing sight of the financial performance that is needed for us to continue to innovate while rewarding our investors. This is a complex equation that requires the commitment of the whole organization to solve, as well as a constructive dialogue with decision makers in healthcare systems!

We recognize that in some healthcare systems, different kinds of coverage or high out-of-pocket costs may throw up further barriers to access, and we continuously look to find solutions and offer options like patient support and patient assistance programs to enable people who need our medicines to access them. Last year, we supported over 95,000 patients in the U.S. alone through these patient assistance programs.

Expanding access in low and middle-income geographies

Out of the 36 countries where UCB is present, eight are classified as low- and middle-income countries, where our access initiatives are tailored to the specific status of their healthcare system. 2022 brought the launch of our first social business pilot in Mumbai, India – where an estimated 144,000 people are living with epilepsy, and where persistent diagnostic and treatment gaps exist linked to awareness, healthcare capacity and medicine availability. Working together with local organizations and practitioners, health camps regularly take place directly in the community. Here, patients have easier access to diagnosis tools, and can benefit from tele-counseling services, home delivery of medicines, and discounted anti-seizure medications. The approach is set to serve as a social business model for improving epilepsy care in underserved communities in other geographies, and we plan to double activities in Mumbai through 2023.

Our philanthropic approach through the UCB Innovation for Health Equity Fund, managed by the King Baudouin Foundation, complements our social business efforts, with a particular focus on health system strengthening and improving epilepsy care in underserved populations. This includes supporting the relationship between the University of Ghent and the University of Rwanda to train health professionals, so more communities can have access to qualified neurological care. A new program to train physicians as neurologists welcomed its first cohort of physicians in 2022, with the aim of training 16 neurologists in the next five years.

Improving health equity among diverse groups

Health equity is also about deepening our local connections in the communities where we operate. This starts with understanding how diverse patient groups experience care and treatment, to better understand where social determinants of health may have exacerbated health inequities among historically underserved communities and define targeted approaches. In 2022, we continued to invest in social research and expanded work with patients in the Hispanic community in the U.S. with a pilot on epilepsy care. You can learn more about these efforts, as well as our U.S. pricing and access in our latest U.S. Sustainable Access and Pricing Transparency Report, published alongside the Integrated Annual Report.

Assessing how to move sustainable access even further

In 2022, we launched a new Sustainable Access Framework to guide our planning and execution to deliver better access to our solutions for people who need them, now and into the future. Our teams are trained to ask questions, ranging from which barriers are currently preventing patients from accessing the care they need, to how the existing health ecosystem infrastructure and funding mechanisms may impact on feasibility of solutions and spread these insights into the organization so that they can be acted upon. This in-depth understanding of existing barriers should improve the dialogue with local stakeholders to create innovate pathways and improve access in a way which is viable for society, our shareholders and UCB.

Every day, all of us at UCB work to honour our commitment to deliver moments that matter for people impacted by severe diseases, and to create sustainable value, now and into the future. Guided by impactful partnerships, a legacy of more than 90 years of scientific excellence and pioneering research, and a relentless drive to launch innovative medicines, we can look towards the future with confidence. Today, we are proud to be on that journey together, and to be progressing on our commitment to ensuring equitable access to medicines, now and into the future.

To learn more about how we are delivering strong financial and extra-financial results for all our stakeholders, check out the UCB Integrated Annual Report 2022.  

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Posted by Wolfgang Noack, 13 March 2023

Hi ucb.com owner, Your posts are always insightful and valuable.