By Ross Kohan
September 1, 2016

Many people think pharmaceutical companies put profits before people. But Novartis, the giant Swiss pharmaceutical company, is trying to change that public perception. CEO Joe Jimenez has launched a program that provides 15 medicines to low income countries to treat diabetes, breast cancer, respiratory illnesses and cardiovascular disease. More than 28 million people in undeveloped countries die from these diseases every year. The price for these Novartis drugs: $1 per month per treatment.

“This is not going to be a money-making exercise,” Jimenez says, “but it’s part of the mission. It’s part of the purpose of Novartis.”

Fortune’s Susie Gharib reports that Novartis and many other companies are talking more frequently these days about what’s commonly called “leading with purpose.” It is a common theme in a series of CEO interviews she conducted in partnership with The Aspen Institute Business and Society Program (

What does “purpose” mean at Novartis? “It’s getting normal back,” replies Jimenez. “When somebody gets sick, all you want to do is to get normal back” he says. “And that’s what Novartis fights for every day.”

Jimenez also says the year-old program is having a positive impact on Novartis employees. “It’s gotten them much more engaged in the mission of the company because they now feel like they’re leading with purpose,” he says. “They’re coming to work for a more noble cause.”


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