In a first-of-its-kind move by a large drug maker, Novartis (NVS) raised approximately $2.1 billion last week by selling bonds that are tied directly to its progress in making medicines accessible in certain low- and middle-income countries.

Specifically, the stated goal is to expand the number of patients who receive its brand-name medicines by at least 200% by 2025, as well as programs that market medicines to combat leprosy, malaria, Chagas, and sickle cell disease by at least 50% over the same period. If the company fails to meet those expanded access goals, however, investors will receive higher interest payments.

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  • Novartis deserves points for innovating in a historically boring space (corporate bond market) but not so much on the social impact on this one. Expanding market access in LIMCs is a growth opportunity for every business. Too much emphasis is placed on the product a company happens to sell, when social impact is really about how it operates its business and where it contributes to communities along the entire value chain.

  • May one observe that while I am sure our scribe has faithfully copied the Novartis numbers in the last line, the idea that each recipient of NVS largess got $30,000 / USD “last year” is ________ [fill in the blank].
    NOTE – I did that calculation by eye, and rounded same.

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