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Orion donates surplus medicines to low-income countries and disaster-hit areas

Orion is launching a collaboration with International Health Partners to donate medicines unused due to the COVID-19 pandemic to the Central African Republic and Haiti.
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Orion is working together with International Health Partners (IHP) to donate surplus medicines to the Central African Republic and Haiti. IHP is a global NGO providing an avenue for pharmaceutical companies to donate medicines to developing low-income countries and disaster-hit areas that would otherwise have limited or no access to essential medicines. IHP supports vulnerable people by directing, coordinating and delivering strategic medicine donations to communities around the world in dire need of healthcare.

The donated medicines will be sent to the receiving countries during the autumn. The first batch includes 10,000 packets of antibiotics to the Central African Republic and the second batch 40,000 packets of pain relief medicines to Haiti. In partnership with local organisations, IHP makes sure that the medicines reach those who need them most.

“We work closely with our local partner organisations who in turn collaborate with local healthcare providers. This way we can be sure that people receive the medicines they need,” says Lydia Amartey-Williams, Corporate Partnerships Manager at IHP.

IHP’s partner organisations in the receiving countries go through a strict selection process based on the MHRA licence. This process ensures that the healthcare providers partnering with the organisation have adequate facilities, clinical expertise and appropriate capabilities to store and dispense medicines safely. IHP also audits its partner organisations regularly after the accreditation.

COVID-19 restrictions have reduced the demand for medicines in Finland
With the restrictions adopted due to the coronavirus pandemic, the demand for antibiotics and certain other medicines has been considerably lower during the pandemic compared to previous years. According to Finland’s Social Insurance Institution Kela, the amount of antibiotics purchased from pharmacies was 30 per cent lower in 2020 compared to 2019.

Due to the reduced demand, an excess of antibiotics and pain relief medicines marketed by Orion has remained in stock. The collaboration with IHP allows Orion to find new use for the surplus products which, according to sales forecasts, would otherwise remain unsold.

Medicines have at least one year of shelf life

At the time of donation, the medicines channelled through IHP have at least one year of shelf life remaining. The minimum requirements for shelf life within the EU are extremely strict, and for this reason the medicines cannot be donated within the EU. Donating the medicines through IHP is a natural solution for Orion.

“We are pleased to have been able to find a good use for these Orion antibiotics and painkillers. Now, these medicines will help people instead of ending up in medicinal waste due to sudden changes in demand,” says Noora Paronen, Head of Corporate Responsibility at Orion.

Orion tracks the journey of the donated medicines closely

After the medicines have been donated, IHP will report to Orion on how the medicines were used in the destination countries. The reports allow Orion to track the journey of the medicines and ensure that the medicines end up with those who genuinely need them.

For a hundred years, Orion has been a key operator ensuring the security of medicine supply in Finland. Through its collaboration with IHP, Orion is now also helping to secure the availability of medicines in crisis-hit and humanitarian disaster areas. Paronen is impressed with IHP’s rapid response in disaster-hit areas and its ability to provide medicines and equipment to those most in need.

“I am really excited about this new collaboration opportunity. We plan on making further donations in the future if we experience similar unforeseen changes in demand,” Paronen says.