DNDi Welcomes WHO’s Call to Halt Malaria Monotherapy

[ Geneva , Switzerland – January 20, 2005 ]
The Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi) welcomes the warning issued by the World Health Organization (WHO) to stop selling artemisinin as a monotherapy for malaria, and thus, to prevent the development of resistance to the drug.

It is a timely warning and will encourage the international community to treat malaria with medicines that actually work.“These new guidelines are vital to ensuring that patients receive effective medications now and in the future,” said Dr. Bernard Pecoul, Executive Director of DNDi. “While the world waits for new drugs for malaria, fixed-dose artesunate combinations are the way forward. With their greater availability, the issue of curing patients is now not just technical or medical, but political.” Two new fixed-dose, artemisinin-based combination therapies (FACTs) – artesunateamodiaquine (AS/AQ) and artesunate-mefloquine (AS/MQ) – have been developed by DNDi and will be available by the end of this year. These tablets, which will join Novartis’ Coartem as FACTs available to patients, offer patients greater choice and will cost approximately 50% less compared to current ACTs. DNDi’s innovative FACT Project has brought together academic, public and private partners from around the world. Europe ‘s leading drugmaker, sanofi-aventis, will develop AS/AQ for sub-Saharan Africa and Indonesia ; and Farmanguinhos, the public pharmaceutical branch of the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation, will produce AS/MQ for Latin America.

To date, 43 sub-Saharan countries have adopted ACTs in their malaria treatment protocols, but only 15 have actually begun to implement the change, and only a handful have done so on a national level. WHO’s call will encourage the others to actively pursue the implementation of ACTs.

See the WHO press release on the net:

PDF version (english) of this press release

The Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative (DNDi) is an independent, not-for-profit drug development initiative established in 2003 by MSF and six other founding partners, including public sector research institutions from Brazil , Kenya , Malaysia , and India as well as the Institut Pasteur in France and the World Health Organization’s Tropical Diseases Research (TDR) program. With a current portfolio of 20 projects, DNDi aims to develop new, improved, and field-relevant drugs for neglected diseases – such as leishmaniasis, human African trypanosomiasis, and Chagas disease – that afflict the very poor in developing countries. DNDi also raises awareness about the need for greater R&D for neglected diseases and strengthens existing research capacity in disease-endemic countries. For further information, please consult www.dndi.org

For more information, contact DNDi’s Ann-Marie SEVCSIK at amsevcsik@dndi.org ;
1-646-258-8131 or +41 (0)79 814 9147)