Case Aventis: Partnerships for health Pharmaceutical company Aventis focuses on the discovery and…

Case

Aventis: Partnerships for health

Pharmaceutical company Aventis focuses on
the discovery and development of products such as prescription drugs, vaccines,
and therapeutic proteins through its business units Aventis Pharma and Aventis
Pasteur. Aventis’s products are increasingly becoming essential tools in
dealing with the many emerging and reemerging

epidemics that threaten people the world over. However, in places where many of
these epidemics are prevalent, the fight requires more than products. A lack of
clinics and skilled personnel, insufficient supply chains, missing health

Case

Aventis: Partnerships for health

Pharmaceutical company Aventis focuses on
the discovery and development of products such as prescription drugs, vaccines,
and therapeutic proteins through its business units Aventis Pharma and Aventis
Pasteur. Aventis’s products are increasingly becoming essential tools in
dealing with the many emerging and reemerging

epidemics that threaten people the world over. However, in places where many of
these epidemics are prevalent, the fight requires more than products. A lack of
clinics and skilled personnel, insufficient supply chains, missing health
insurance systems, and in some cases political unrest and violence make
provision of health products complex.

However, there are institutions such as the World Health Organization (WHO)
that have the capabilities and regional knowledge required, and it makes sense
for companies like Aventis to share competencies with such bodies. Thus,
Aventis teamed up with WHO and other groups to ensure that the products needed
to tackle such epidemics reach those in need. Partnerships include the Global
Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI), the Global Polio Eradication
Initiative, and the recently formed partnership to tackle African sleeping
sickness.

Concerned about the disparity between the quantity and types of vaccines
supplied in developed countries and those made available in developing countries,
Aventis has become a partner in GAVI, which includes others in the vaccine
industry, WHO, Unicef, the World Bank, governments of developing countries, and
many OECD governments. The alliance was founded on the belief that protecting
the health of children through immunization is a fundamental cornerstone for
economic development and global security. Its goals are to improve access to
sustainable immunization services; expand the use of safe, cost-effective
vaccines where needed; accelerate the development and introduction of new
vaccines and technologies; accelerate research and development efforts for
vaccines needed primarily in developing countries; and make immunization
coverage a centerpiece of international development efforts.

“For Aventis Pasteur, industry participation in the alliance is necessary to
help ensure supply for these markets—and to make vaccines available to the 40
million to 70 million children born each year who would otherwise not have
access to this preventive intervention,” says Jacques Berger, Aventis Pasteur’s
senior vice president for corporate public policy. He points out that the
vaccine industry is the only one that supplies large volumes of products to the
poorest segment of the population at highly discounted prices. “This private–
public alliance is a model for other basic-needs markets,” he adds.

Aventis is also a partner in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, launched
in 1988 by WHO, Rotary International, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, and
UNICEF, with the goal of eliminating polio worldwide. Aventis Pasteur has
launched a Web site (www.polio-vaccine.com) devoted to polio eradication. The
trilingual site (in French, English and Spanish) provides current information
about the disease. Between 2000 and 2002, Aventis Pasteur will be donating 50
million doses of oral polio vaccine to Angola, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Somalia,
and Southern Sudan. Since 1997, Aventis Pasteur has donated nearly 90 million
doses of oral polio vaccine to African countries. “As the largest historical
producer of polio vaccines, we have an obligation to contribute to the final
assault on polio,” says JeanJacques Bertrand, chairman and chief executive
officer of Aventis Pasteur. “Today, when now more than ever polio eradication
is within our reach, we believe that we must sustain this momentum and
intensify our fight.”

There is a dramatic resurgence of African trypanosomiasis, more commonly known
as sleeping sickness, in sub-Saharan Africa. The disease is spreading in some
of the poorest Central African communities, threatening more than 60 million
people in 36 countries. It has become one of the greatest causes of mortality,
ahead of HIV/AIDS in some provinces. Aventis and WHO, working with medical
humanitarian organization Médecins sans Frontières (MSF), designed a
large-scale program to combat the disease. “This partnership is an example of a
public–private partnership wanting to find viable solutions for
life-threatening diseases,” said Richard J. Markham, CEO of Aventis Pharma.

Aventis Pharma has committed $25 million to support WHO’s activities in the
field of African trypanosomiasis over a 5-year period. This is not a simple
donation of products but rather a structured partnership that involves three
related efforts to tackle the epidemic. Key pharmaceuticals will be provided to
WHO, to be distributed by MSF. Aventis will also finance the acceleration of
disease surveillance, control activities, and support new research. For any
undertaking to be successful, it is necessary to address the integrated
considerations of drug manufacturing and provision, as well as the ongoing
treatment and needs of patients.

Aventis could not have tackled such programs alone. The company lacks the
experience of working with patients in such affected areas; neither does it
possess the capabilities to conduct the necessary surveillance and control of
activities. The administration of drugs in some cases is also very demanding on
the provider. For example, those affected by sleeping sickness require treatment
four times a day, at 6-hour intervals for 1 month. WHO, however, possesses the
capacity and experience and knows the affected regions. But they do not possess
the capacity to manufacture the treatment drugs. Clearly then, partnerships
that bring together these necessary skills, experience, and capacities are
required.

1. Which of the five elements of the
multipleperspectives systems approach advocated by Werhane and Gorman do you
believe are exhibited in this case? Explain.

2. How would De George assess this case?
Explain.

3. How would you assess Aventis’s
partnerships as described in this case from the perspective of an employee, a
shareholder, and a community member? Should Aventis continue the partnerships,
discontinue the partnerships, or expand the partnerships? Explain.

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