NECT, a New Combination Therapy against Sleeping Sickness, Approved by WHO, Will Now be Available
On May 15, Médecins Sans Frontières, Epicentre, and DNDi announced that NECT the first improved treatment for sleeping sickness in 25 years has nee included on the WHO Essential Medicines List and is now available for use in treating the advanced stage of the disease. This was a major event for DNDi and partners as NECT, a simplified co-administration of oral nifurtimox and intravenous eflornithine, can make an immediate, practical improvement for patients and health care staff today. If NECT is effectively implemented as a replacement for melarsoprol, it could save 4 to 5 lives for every 100 patients treated as there is much less toxicity with NECT. This is critical as there are no new drugs for the advanced stage of the disease expected in the next five years. NECT clinical evidence from a 5-year, multicentre, randomized controlled trial in central Africa, represents some of the strongest evidence in the field to date. According to WHO, NECT "provides a new opportunity to improve the management of sleeping sickness cases" by reducing treatment duration and making it easier to administer.
Although NECT radically improves upon current treatment options by being safer to use than melarsoprol and far easier to use than eflornithine, the treatment is still far from ideal. Having a truly simplified treatment which can be orally administered, implemented at the primary health care level, and effective against both stages of the disease, is still the ultimate goal.
Rediscovered by DNDi after extensive compound mining efforts with industry and academia, Fexinidazole is entering clinical development in 2009 and is the only new clinical candidate currently in the drug pipeline for sleeping sickness. It offers the potential of an oral treatment that can treat both stages of disease (no painful lumbar punctures and no more infusions over 2 weeks). On May 18: sanofi-aventis and DNDi signed an agreement to develop and make this drug available for sleeping sickness. DNDi will be responsible for clinical and pharmaceutical development and sanofi-aventis for the industrial development, registration, and production of the drug at its manufacturing sites.
Moreover, DNDi is also pleased to announce its continuing partnership with the biopharmaceutical company, Anacor, on boron-based therapeutics for sleeping sickness and other neglected diseases.
Key donors have financially supported these 2 projects : the Department for International Development (DFID) of the United Kingdom, Médecins Sans Frontières International, the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs (MAEE) of France, and the Spanish Agency of International Cooperation for Development (AECID), the Medicor Foundation for NECT and Fexinidazole ; GTZ of Germany and a Swiss foundation for Fexinidazole. DNDi is grateful for their support.
More information on: http://www.dndi.org/newsletter/17/