The Novartis Malaria Initiative

Case Solution

Michael Chu, Vincent Dessain, Emilie Billaud
Harvard Business School ()

The Novartis Malaria Initiative was developed as a result of an agreement with the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2001 to provide a revolutionary “not-for-profit” treatment for malaria in public health systems. What began as an exemplary act of corporate responsibility has exceeded all expectations. In 2012, Novartis manufactured and sold more than 100 million units of the malaria drug Coartem ¬Æ for the second year in a row. However, significantly higher volumes also went hand in hand with higher costs, putting the sustainability of the program into question. In 2013, Dr. Linus Igwemezie, Executive Vice President and Director of the Novartis Malaria Initiative, explained the development of the program and how to proceed. Their goal was to expand access to Coartem in the private sector through a low-margin, high-volume social business model to eventually allow the Malaria Initiative to become balanced and financially sustainable. Was that the correct strategy?

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