New Initiatives, Impact and Cold Chain Fuel Growing Partnership Between Amgen and Direct Relief
Direct Relief and Amgen have partnered on product donations to provide access for underserved patients for many years. However, over the past two years, the relationship has grown in many diverse and exciting ways resulting in the greatest number of healthcare providers and underserved patients being supported since the outset of the partnership. Amgen and Direct Relief’s work has resulted in product donations to thirty-three countries, from Cambodia to Tanzania to Nicaragua, and even including the United States. Amgen’s product donations have included chemotherapies and adjunctive therapies vital in the treatment of cancer patients to generic antibiotics and steroids from Amgen’s generics affiliate that were extremely helpful in Direct Relief’s actions to help developing country’s preparations as they strengthened their healthcare systems during the Covid-19 pandemic. In addition, the partnership now includes a rare disease program supporting Amgen’s Blincyto leukemia therapy, a breast cancer initiative, and cold-chain infrastructure support to increase Rx supply chain capacity for underserved countries.
Amgen Donations Summary 2020-2021
Total Number of Shiments of Aid: 276
Total Number of Recipient Countries: 33
Total Number of Recipient Organizations Served: 201
Total Weight Shipped (tons): 68.6
PPE: Over 1 million units of PPE donated
Cash Donated for General Support, Covid, Programs, Disaster Response: $4 million plus
Summary of Programs
BHAP: Launched in 2020, the Blincyto Humanitarian Access Program (BHAP) is a partnership between Direct Relief, Amgen, and St. Jude to provide access to Blincyto therapy for approved pediatric Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia patients in India and Pakistan. The BHAP has approved 19 patients thus far for Blincyto treatment.
Comprehensive Breast Cancer Initiative: Launching this year, Amgen, Direct Relief and the City Cancer Challenge Foundation (C/Can) have partnered on a multi-year initiative to help improve the health and lives of women suffering from breast cancer. 2022 will make the pilot year of this program in conjunction with leading treatment centers in Paraguay, with additional target countries to follow in subsequent years. The effort provides consistent and reliable access to Amgen-manufactured essential oncology medicines, including chemotherapy and targeted therapy agents used in adjuvant and neoadjuvant setting, plus essential supportive medicines used in oncology patients. The initiative will also support strategic investments in each country’s four main areas of cancer care infrastructure and healthcare workforce, including: diagnosis, treatment, palliative care, and supportive care.
Product Donations: Amgen’s generous support includes providing Direct Relief with product donations including life saving chemotherapies and adjunctive cancer therapies. Amgen’s donations allow Direct Relief to support healthcare partners and underserved patients across the globe. Starting in 2020, Amgen’s donations now also include products manufactured by Amgen’s generics affiliate Gensenta enabling Direct Relief to distribute an even broader spectrum of medications. The product donations have supported thirty three countries, including the United States.
Cold Chain Infrastructure: Amgen and Direct Relief have successfully partnered to increase cold chain infrastructure for facilities in geographic areas that have difficulty receiving and administrating cold chain medications to their underserved patients. The support has included the construction of cold rooms and the purchase of pharmaceutical grade refrigerators. Among other countries, Amgen’s support allowed the Tanzania based facilities Muhimbili National Hospital and Tumaini La Maisha to build a cold room to allow them to house and administer cold chain products including Amgen’s cancer medications. The collaboration also increased included capacity to deliver cold-chain cancer medicines to satellite pediatric cancer units in public hospitals around the country.
Donation Highlight: Hospital Loma de Luz, Honduras
Direct Relief supports Hospital Loma de Luz, a full-service missionary hospital serving approximately 25,000 patients a year. They provide emergency, outpatient, inpatient, obstetrics, and surgical services to a catchment area of approximately 75,000 patients and referral services for the greater Honduran community. Amgen has supported this hospital with over 11,000 units of medicine which has helped support an estimated 1,500 patients.
4-year old Axel (pictured right) is one of many children at Loma de Luz receiving Prednol to treat nephrotic syndrome. This condition, left unchecked, causes the child to become painfully fluid-filled while destroying their kidneys. Some of these children, Axel included, require ongoing steroids (such as methylprednisolone), every other day for most of their childhood.
Ceftriaxone (Nevakson) is another mainstay therapy at Loma de Luz, as a single dose will treat many of the maladies common in medically underserved communities. It is frequently used to treat expectant mothers suffering from urinary tract infections, preventing premature labor and infant mortality. Nevakson was recently used to treat a 4-year old girl suffering from an antibiotic resistant pyelonephritis. The medical staff at Loma de Luz made sure to note that the Nevakson made all the difference in saving the little girl’s life.
Donation Highlight: Muhimbili National Hospital
Direct Relief is a proud partner of Muhimbili National Hospital (MNH), a national referral hospital, research center and university teaching Hospital with a 1,500 bed capacity. It’s medical staff attends to 2,000 outpatients per day, as well as providing inpatient and pharmacy services.
Many of Direct Relief’s contributions to Muhimbili National Hospital are in support of Tumaini la Maisha, a non-profit group whose center of opertations for pediatric oncology care is based out of MNH. In the past two years, Amgen has provided significant quantities of thhe oncology products Neulasta and Neupogen to support patients suffereing from cancer.
Estimates indicate that 4,000 – 4,500 children in Tanzania develop cancer each year, but only 720 will seek care due in large part to financial barriers. The pediatric cancer program at Muhimbili National Hospital provides free access to cancer medications thanks to Amgen’s donation of Neulasta and Neupogen. Amgen’s generous support has also provided MNH with the supplies and infrastructure to expand the capacity of its pediatric oncology center, such as 50 high-end thermalized containers for transporting cold-chain medicine, battery operated temperature loggers, and a cold-room for the safe and secure storage of life saving cancer medications.