Delivery of child-friendly antimalarial hits the 100 million mark

Coartem® Dispersible is now being distributed in 39 countries
22 February 2012

One hundred million treatments of Coartem® Dispersible (artemether-lumefantrine), an antimalarial developed especially for children with Plasmodium falciparum malaria, have been delivered by Novartis to 39 malaria-endemic countries, Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV) announced today.

Coartem® Dispersible is the product of the partnership between MMV and Novartis. It is the first WHO prequalified child-friendly artemisinin-combination therapy (ACT) and addresses an unmet need for paediatric medicines. Young children in Africa are disproportionately affected by malaria, with 86% of malaria deaths occurring in children under the age of 5 years.

Ahead of the international community’s call for better child-friendly medicines, MMV and Novartis signed an agreement in 2003 to develop the first paediatric ACT. The child-friendly formulation was launched in 2009.

“This is indeed a landmark achievement for both Novartis and MMV,” said MMV’s CEO, David Reddy. “Never before have 100 million paediatric treatments been distributed in such a short time frame to assist children suffering from malaria. Today, we have proved that partnerships can succeed in not only developing new, high-quality medicines for malaria but also delivering these to vulnerable populations. This success only increases our determination to address remaining unmet medical needs by bringing forward new antimalarial medicines as our part in defeating this disease. We are indebted to our partners like Novartis and to our donors*, who are crucial to the success of MMV.”

“Reaching the 100 million milestone in less than 3 years is the culmination of a successful collaboration between Novartis and MMV,” said Linus Igwemezie, Head of the Novartis Malaria Initiative. “Partnerships are at the core of the Novartis Malaria Initiative and we are delighted at the success these collaborations have had in providing effective malaria treatments to millions of patients who are most in need. There is still much to be done and we are committed to continue applying our innovation power to help improve access to affordable and quality antimalarials.”

"The success of Coartem® Dispersible shows why research and development is at the heart of the British Government's fight against malaria,” said Stephen O’Brien, Under-Secretary of State for International Development, UK. “Product Development Partnerships, such as Medicines for Malaria Venture, bring together the public and private sectors to use their combined expertise to develop new drugs. Children are the most vulnerable to this deadly disease. By developing this paediatric treatment, Medicines for Malaria Venture and Novartis have given the hope of a healthier life to millions of the world's poorest children.”

Focused measures have been taken to facilitate the uptake of this medicine, including registration in 39 malaria-endemic countries, a without-profit pricing model and special packaging designed to improve compliance. These measures have not only led to increased demand but also to an accelerated uptake, underlining the advantage of the paediatric formulation. By reaching this milestone the Novartis Malaria Initiative and MMV have proven that drug development partnerships can truly advance the fight against malaria.

* Correction (posted 11 June 2012): One hundred million treatments of Coartem® Dispersible have been ordered by 39 countries and delivered by Novartis to 35 malaria-endemic countries.