Case | HBS Case Collection | March 2014 (Revised July 2014)

The Novartis Malaria Initiative

by Michael Chu, Vincent Marie Dessain and Emilie Billaud


The Novartis Malaria Initiative was designed, as a result of a precedent–setting agreement with the World Health Organization in 2001, to provide a breakthrough treatment for malaria—"at no profit"—for public health systems. What had begun as an exemplary act of corporate responsibility had succeeded beyond any expectations. In 2012, for the second year in a row, Novartis had manufactured and distributed over 100 million units of the anti–malarial drug Coartem ®. But with the significantly increased volumes came increased costs, bringing into question the sustainability of the program. In 2013, Dr. Linus Igwemezie, executive vice president and head of the Novartis Malaria Initiative, reflected on the evolution of the program and the way forward. His goal was to expand access to Coartem in the private sector through a low-margin, high-volume social business model to eventually enable the Malaria Initiative to break even and become financially sustainable. Was this the right strategy?

Keywords: Health Care and Treatment; Product Marketing; Corporate Social Responsibility and Impact; Pharmaceutical Industry; Switzerland; Africa; Nigeria;


Chu, Michael, Vincent Marie Dessain, and Emilie Billaud. "The Novartis Malaria Initiative." Harvard Business School Case 314-103, March 2014. (Revised July 2014.)