Brussels, 05 May 2004
The World Health Organisation (WHO) is to join forces with GlaxoSmithKline and the Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV), a non-profit foundation, in order to develop a new drug for treating malaria.
The malaria crisis in Africa is escalating, and resistance to existing drugs is one of the principal causes. Traditional treatments for malaria, such as chloroquine and sulfadoxine/pyrimethamine are becoming less and less effective.
This drug resistance can only be tackled with the development of new treatments. The new drug will combine chlorproguanil, dapsone and artesunate (CDA).
'Partnership is essential to combine resources and expertise; and accelerate the process of providing safe, effective and affordable drugs. It is the best way to help ensure that a drug such as CDA gets to the people in need as quickly as possible,' said Chris Hentschel, CEO of MMV.
The project will use the results of previous work on the development of dapsone and chlorproguanis as its starting point. This research was funded by the UK government's department of international development with the proviso that if CDA were to be successful as a result of this initiative, it will be made available at preferential prices to the public sector in countries with endemic malaria. If targets are met, the new drug will be ready for regulatory submission in 2006.
The WHO estimates that there are between 300 and 500 new cases of malaria annually. Malaria is believed to be directly responsible for one million deaths every year, and indirectly for a further 1.7 million. The disease is the leading cause of death in young children in Africa.
In addition to the human toll, malaria costs Africa around ten billion euro annually, and consumes 40 per cent of all public health spending, according to the WHO.