Health System Strengthening
Amgen is dedicated to working with global, regional and local stakeholders to improve health in low- and middle-income countries. Recognizing that the systems that support the delivery of medicines are essential, we have developed a multi-pronged approach of (1) working with stakeholders at the local level on specific collaborations designed to enhance the way healthcare can be delivered, (2) operating patient programs and education, and (3) supporting science education of students around the globe to foster a sound health and sciences environment.
Partnerships and Programs to Support Healthcare Systems
Our health system strengthening programs seek to build healthcare capabilities to enhance the way healthcare can be delivered and improve patient outcomes. Programs include collaborations with providers, diagnostic companies, medical societies, digital technology companies, academia, payers and others. As of August 2021, programs are being implemented in 44 countries, such as Algeria, Bulgaria, Colombia, India, Mexico and Thailand, where inequality can exacerbate access challenges for certain patient populations.
Case Study: Accelerating Access to Care for Pediatric Cancer Patients in India
B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (B-ALL), a cancer that affects white blood cells, is the most common type of childhood cancer. Without treatment, this cancer is imminently fatal. One product proven to treat B-ALL is Amgen’s BLINCYTO® (blinatumomab).
“Acute leukemia is a rapidly deadly cancer and BLINCYTO can be a game-changer for patients,” says Dr. Faraz Zaman, Global Medical Director at Amgen. “We knew we had a responsibility to find a sustainable way to provide BLINCYTO to children in low- and middle-income countries who do not have access to this cutting-edge immunotherapy.”
One of the biggest challenges was to ensure that local physicians and hospital staff had the expertise to safely use this advanced biologic treatment, which requires complex intravenous administration and management of potentially serious reactions.
To strengthen local expertise, Amgen turned to U.S.-based St. Jude Children’s Hospital, a global leader in pediatric cancer care, and Direct Relief, a non-profit organization with a strong record of supporting donations of other Amgen products. Together, the three organizations launched the BLINCYTO Humanitarian Access Program (BHAP) pilot in December 2020 with the first doses planned for India, followed in early 2021 in Pakistan. The program is planned to expand to Vietnam later in 2021. Under the program, carefully selected and qualified hospitals will receive BLINCYTO at no cost, together with training and ongoing support to ensure safe administration and patient care.
According to Dr. Zaman, the medical training – conducted jointly by Amgen and St. Jude -- will not only build the skills of the doctors and nurses to safely use BLINCYTO, but also the capabilities of hospitals in immunotherapy more generally. “The benefit will be much wider as hospitals and providers continue to gain experience and training in this critical field of immunotherapy in pediatric care.”
Case Study: Building Pathways for Precision Medicine in Mexico
In Mexico, non-small cell lung cancer is one of the leading causes of death. But it doesn’t have to be thanks to medical advances, including more-effective targeted therapeutics and testing that allow physicians to make better decisions for their patients. One challenge is that doctors must use separate tests, each requiring an invasive biopsy procedure, to determine which medicine might be most effective for a patient. This not only increases testing costs and time, it also increases the burden and discomfort on patients.
In 2020, Amgen joined with five other biopharmaceutical companies and the National Institute of Cancer in Mexico to develop a single biomarker testing program. Coordinated by the Mexican Association of Pharmaceutical Industries (AMIIF), companies provided testing panels to allow physicians to test for five biomarkers with a single biopsy. As part of the program, Amgen provided the panel for the KRASG12C biomarker, a genetic mutation that occurs in about 13% of non-small cell lung cancers.
The program, which hopes to reach 400 patients in 2021 with free testing, is intended for people who do not have the resources to pay for biomarker testing. In addition to helping improve patient care, the program is collecting biomarker incidence data in a national data management system with the goal of creating real-word evidence to help inform treatment decisions in Mexico moving forward.
Patient Programs and Education
Amgen deploys programs to help patients with all aspects of their disease journey. Such programs include patient education on their disease, appropriate administration and adherence to treatment, managing side effects, and navigating reimbursement processes. We also provide transportation assistance ex-US to medical appointments for mobility-impaired patients in certain countries. As of August 2021, such programs are in place in several countries including Brazil, Bulgaria, Colombia, Mexico, and Romania.
The Amgen Foundation is dedicated to advancing excellence in science education to inspire the next-generation of innovators, and it has donated nearly $200 million to advancing science education globally. The Foundation focuses on making grants to nonprofit organizations that deliver a range of educational programs and aims to advance diverse programs with the potential to have a lasting impact.
Amgen's initiatives advancing science education include:
- Amgen Scholars : An annual program that pairs 360 undergraduate students with research opportunities at more than 20 top-tier institutions around the world.
- Amgen Biotech Experience : A science education program created to enable secondary school science teachers to implement real-world biotechnology labs in their classrooms. In the United States, more than half of the public schools with participating science teachers are Title I.
- LabXchange : Launched by the Amgen Foundation and the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard University in January 2020, this free online science education platform provides users with access to personalized instruction, virtual lab experiences, and networking opportunities across the global scientific community. One year post launch, the new online platform has more than 6 million users across the globe and 59 collaborating partners. The Amgen Foundation has committed nearly $13 million to date to LabXchange to help ensure that everyone, everywhere has equal opportunity for success in science.
- Khan Academy : Offers a high-quality virtual classroom for students and teachers globally. The Amgen Foundation is the Khan Academy’s Biology Partner and supports partnerships with U.S. school districts. In 2020, the Amgen Foundation renewed funding to Khan Academy to support virtual biology lessons, partnerships with U.S. school districts facing budget shortfalls, and a collaboration with LabXchange. Since 2015, the Foundation has committed nearly $7 million to Khan Academy. In April 2020 at the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, Khan Academy’s biology content experienced a 50% increase in traffic over the previous year as learning shifted online for many students.
iMarsh & McLennan Companies. Advancing into the Golden Years: Cost of Healthcare for Asia Pacific's Elderly. 2016. Available at https://www.marsh.com/au/insights/research (Last accessed September 2017)
iiInternational Osteoporosis Foundation. The Asia-Pacific Regional Audit: Epidemiology, costs and burden of osteoporosis. 2013. Available at: https://www.iofbonehealth.org/sites/default/files/media/PDFs/Regional%20Audits/2013-Asia_Pacific_Audit_0_0.pdf
iiiAdapted from https://www.nof.org/patients/communication-with-your-doctor/fracture-liaison-service-fls/