Ministry of Health and Prevention, Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson, and Axios signed the MoU at US Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: A new deal has been signed to expand the scope of UAE’s ‘Hand in Hand’ initiative, which provides affordable medicines to uninsured and low-income expat patients.

The Ministry of Health and Prevention (MoHAP), Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson, and Axios, a global healthcare consulting firm, recently signed an appendix to the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to widen the coverage of Hand in Hand.

The initiative includes those whose insurance does not cover the cost of treatment of pulmonary arterial hypertension, multiple myeloma, active ulcerative colitis, and psoriatic arthritis.

The initiative covers drug support plans, based on the assessment of non-Emirati patients who are uninsured or those whose medical insurance doesn’t cover the cost of the treatment. The initiative also includes sharing the cost with patients or the supporting body according to their ability to bear the costs of the treatment.

Extending the programme

The MoU was first signed in December 2018 and about 712 eligible patients benefited from it. In April 2019, an extension of the programme was signed to provide new medication to patients with the aforementioned conditions.

The agreement is part of the ministry’s, Janssen’s, and Axios’s commitment to improving access to innovative drugs, especially for low-income expat patients who cannot afford the costs of their treatment.

The latest MoU was signed by Dr Amin Hussein Al Amiri, Assistant Undersecretary for the Health Regulation Sector, MoHAP; Jamie Phares, Managing Director, the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson; and Anas Al Safarini, Senior Director, MENA, Axios International.

The agreement was signed at US Pavilion, Expo 2020 Dubai, in the presence of the US Consul General Meghan Gregonis and the accompanying delegation, along with a number of officials from Janssen and Axios.

Benefiting expats

Al Amiri said: “MoHAP is committed to providing the best medicines for all low-income expat patients in the country. In this context, we launched the Hand in Hand initiative in cooperation with Jansen and Axios International in 2018, and we are currently working on expanding the scope of this initiative to support and enhance patients’ access to innovative medicines.”

He added: “The initiative targets low-income expat patients whose insurance doesn’t cover the total cost of treatment to improve their adherence to the treatment plan prescribed by their attending physician. The initiative also covers eligible low-income non-Emirati patients who are uninsured, underinsured, and financially distressed patients.”

‘Better life for patients’

Gregonis said: “The Hand in Hand MoU that we celebrate today is a perfect example of public-private partnership and shared commitment to patients and will help provide a better access to innovative medicines, something which would ensure a better life for so many patients and their family members.”

Phares said: “The MoU is part of our cooperation with MoHAP and Axios to develop low-income, non-Emirati patient support programmes in the UAE. As part of this constructive cooperation, we facilitate access to our innovative and affordable medicines for low-income non-Emirati patients and the health system at large. We are committed to providing faster and more equitable access to medicines, which is part of our commitment to providing our medicines to patients at an affordable cost.”

Access to medicines

Al Safarini said: “The Hand in Hand initiative supports patients and meets their aspirations when it comes to providing necessary and improved access to innovative drugs, reflecting our commitment at Axios to support the efforts of MoHAP and Janssen to provide medicines to patients.”