FAQs

About MMV

What kind of organization is Medicines for Malaria Venture?

MMV is recognized as the leading product development partnership (PDP) in the field of antimalarial drug research and development. It was established as a foundation in 1999, and registered in Switzerland.

MMV’s mission is to reduce the burden of malaria in disease-endemic countries by discovering, developing and facilitating delivery of new, effective and affordable antimalarial drugs.

MMV’s vision is a world in which these innovative medicines will cure and protect the vulnerable and under-served populations at risk of malaria, and help to ultimately eradicate this terrible disease.

MMV’s strength comes from its product development partnership (PDP) model. Since its inception in 1999, MMV has built an extensive network of over 400 pharmaceutical, academic and endemic-country partners in more than 55 countries.

MMV describes itself as a ‘virtual R&D’ organization. What does this really mean?

MMV’s R&D activities are not conducted on our own premises. Instead we use our partners’ facilities, including premises, hi-tech laboratories and technical expertise. MMV is able to outsource all technical activities to these partners or use contract research organizations (CROs).

The ‘virtual’ R&D portfolio managed by MMV is efficient, cost effective and in a number aspects more flexible than the conventional R&D found in pharmaceutical companies. MMV injects the needed funding into its projects and jointly manages the portfolio, drawing the best from its public and private sector partners. MMV’s mission is entirely focused on making a public health impact in disease-endemic countries.

What is MMV’s relationship to the pharmaceutical industry?

MMV recognizes that the pharmaceutical industry is the keeper of all knowledge and expertise regarding drug development. We cannot function without our pharmaceutical partners. MMV’s main mission is to have a public health impact via the development and use of new antimalarial drugs, in other words to save lives and reduce malaria mortality.

Partnerships with pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies who are willing to contribute resources and know-how to further this goal, without the prospect of a normal commercial return, are fundamental to MMV’s operations. Industry leaders were instrumental in helping establish MMV, and they continue to support its development.

There seem to be many organizations involved with malaria. Is there any overlap or duplication?

Several organizations are involved in the fight to defeat malaria. In part this is because it is a complex disease for which no one ‘magic bullet’ solution exists – it needs an integrated effort that includes preventive and treatment tools, such as long-lasting insecticide-treated bed-nets, indoor residual spraying, innovative detection methods, novel insecticides and in the future, vaccines.

Efforts to help fight malaria range from advocacy, education, R&D and implementation of existing disease control measures using global funding mechanisms. There is no significant overlap or duplication of effort, rather all those involved strive to collaborate and achieve synergy, sometimes formally by creating working groups, but usually informally.

In the R&D arena, MMV is the only organization focused entirely on the development of antimalarial medicines.

For a comprehensive list of organizations working in the area of malaria, visit the Roll Back Malaria website.

Who funds MMV and how much has it raised so far?

MMV has received funding and support from government agencies, private foundations, international organizations, corporations, corporate foundations, and private individuals. These funds are used to finance the MMV portfolio of research and development projects to provide new, effective and affordable medicines for the treatment and prevention of malaria. They also support specific, targeted access and product management interventions to facilitate access to MMV products by vulnerable populations in malaria-endemic countries.

Visit our donors page to learn more.

MMV's funding and expenditure figures are updated on an annual basis. These graphs can be viewed on the funding and expenditure page.

MMV also received ‘In-kind’ contributions such as the use of facilities, pharmaceutical technologies (e.g. high-throughput screening), staff resources, laboratories and unique resources such as general or tailored compound libraries. MMV estimates its in-kind contributions by large pharmaceutical companies to be at a level at least equivalent to the funds committed to projects by MMV.

How cost effective is MMV?

MMV works with a commercial partner through all phases of the R&D process, from early discovery, through to development, regulatory approval and delivery to market. When MMV enters into contractual relationships with partners, our primary goal is social responsibility. This means that we encourage our partners to work with us to ensure that the effective and high quality malaria medicines that we develop and launch will be accessible to those most in need in malaria-endemic countries at the most affordable price possible.

There are several factors that help MMV reduce costs, not least of which are the invaluable ‘in-kind’ contributions that MMV’s pharmaceutical partners make, such as facilities, staff and management. These partner contributions equal and sometimes surpass the amount MMV spends on a project. Additionally, MMV’s stringent portfolio management process as well as rigor in project selection and prioritization allow us to reallocate resources only to the most promising collaborations and continuously deliver high value for donor money.

Further details on MMV’s funding and expenditure are available on the website.

To learn more, watch our video interview series with malaria experts on:

Is MMV affiliated with the World Health Organization?

No. MMV was founded following discussions between several organizations, including the WHO. Today, MMV is an independent Swiss organization with a fully independent governance structure. It does consider the WHO an important partner in its mission. In fact, one of the key objectives of MMV is to maintain an effective dialogue with the WHO so our common goals of making a health impact are aligned.

Working with MMV

I am a scientist and I would like to work in partnership with MMV. What should I know?

MMV does not provide grants for projects, but usually has an annual call for proposals during the first quarter each year. This is advertised on our website but the best way to keep informed is by signing up for our e-newsletter.

MMV is always interested in promising antimalarial drug projects that we help take through the development process. If we do not currently have a call for proposals, you can still write to us. Please complete our contact us form with a short description of your project so that we may put you in touch with the appropriate person on our Science team.

Please take a moment to learn about our Target Product Profiles and to review other important documents found in our Essential information for scientists section if you are interested in working with us.

What is MMV’s policy on intellectual property rights?

When MMV enters into contractual relationships with its partners, its primary goal is to ensure that the antimalarial drugs it develops and launches will be accessible to those most in need in malaria-endemic countries. MMV has found that flexible, results-oriented approaches to dealing with IPR best serve their use as a tool to form and manage collaborations that can further MMV’s public health mission.
Our guiding principles regarding intellectual property rights are:

Exclusivity: If MMV does not own the necessary IPR outright, it would insist on being granted an exclusive license to use the ‘programme IPR’ and any necessary ‘background IPR’ to develop a drug for malaria and bring it to market. That license should be worldwide, to ensure maximum flexibility for later-stage activities such as manufacturing and distribution.

Royalty-free: Any such licenses are preferably royalty-free, at least in malaria-endemic countries, to help keep costs to a minimum and ensure that the drug will be sold at the lowest price possible in these countries.

Transferable: Moreover, MMV does not conduct any R&D in-house or any manufacturing and, therefore, requires IP rights that can be transferred to other partners – especially manufacturing partners - if necessary.

More information on MMV’s approach to IPR can be found in our policy document: MMV and intellectual property rights.

What is MMV’s regulatory strategy?

MMV’s strong commitment to quality is in line with our regulatory strategy. Our aim is to ensure that all drugs co-developed by MMV are approved by a stringent regulatory authority participating in the International Conference of Harmonization (ICH) or the Pharmaceutical Inspection Cooperation Scheme (PIC/S). This ensures that the quality, safety and efficacy of the drug will be scrutinized by experienced independent reviewers.

MMV also supports, as an additional or an alternative stringent review process, approval from WHO’s prequalification programme, which is now a prerequisite for the procurement of antimalarials using public funding from sources such as the Global Fund for HIV, TB and Malaria, and UNICEF. MMV’s goal is to develop drugs that meet international standards required to facilitate their widespread usage. We believe in the mantra – “the era of poor drugs for poor people is over”.

How can my organization partner with MMV on a public health issue?

MMV works with partners within the scope of its mission, to reduce the burden of malaria in disease-endemic countries by discovering, developing and facilitating delivery of new, effective and affordable antimalarial drugs.

Our access to medicines work focuses primarily on supporting the introduction of new medicines in malaria-endemic countries, expanding the reach of appropriate medicines in malaria-endemic countries, providing input to R&D on unmet needs and on gathering market intelligence for decision making.

As we do not implement malaria prevention or treatment programmes in endemic countries, we suggest that you contact the relevant Ministry of Health or National Malaria Control Programme to enquire about organizations working in your community. The Roll Back Malaria website also provides a comprehensive list of organizations around the world working to defeat malaria.

How can I apply for an internship with MMV?

Information about MMV's internship programme is available on our website.

Internship vacancies are posted alongside our job vacancies in jobs section of our website. If you meet all of the criteria for a specific posting, please follow the instructions on the posting to apply for the position.

If we do not currently have any internship positions open for which we are accepting applications, please visit our website again in the future. You can also join us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter or subscribe to our e-newsletter.

Read what interns have said about their experience at MMV.

How can I apply for a job at MMV?

Job vacancies are posted in jobs section of our website. If you meet all of the criteria for a specific posting, please follow the instructions on the posting to apply for the position.

If we do not currently have any positions open for which we are accepting applications, please visit our website again in the future. You can join us on Facebook, follow us on TwitterLinked In, and Google+. You can also subscribe to our e-newsletter.

We also have a page on website dedicated to jobs posted by not-for-profit organizations working in the field of malaria and other infectious diseases, as well as health care and global health. MMV is not responsible or liable for the content available on this page

Malaria and medicines

How big a problem is Malaria?
  • Malaria can kill within 24 hours of symptom onset.1
  • There were 212 million new cases of malaria worldwide in 2015, with 90% of these cases occurring in the WHO Africa Region.2
  • In 2015, there were an estimated 429,000 malaria deaths worldwide, with 92% of these deaths occurring in Africa.2
  • Children under five are particularly susceptible to malaria illness, infection and death. In 2015, malaria killed an estimated 303 000 under-fives globally, including 292 000 children in the African Region.2
  • In 2015, it is estimated that 13 countries accounted for 75% of malaria deaths.2 The global burden of mortality is dominated by countries in sub-Saharan Africa, with Democratic Republic of the Congo and Nigeria together accounting for more than 36% of the global total of estimated malaria deaths. Four countries accounted for 81% of estimated deaths due to P. vivax malaria (Ethiopia, India, Indonesia and Pakistan).2

1. World Health Organization - malaria fact sheets

2. 2016 World Malaria Report

Why are new medicines needed?

For a comprehensive answer, please watch our video interview series with malaria experts, as they answer the question "We already have a number of effective drugs, why do we still need to develop new ones?"

You can read more about drug resistance in MMV's publication "Meeting the challenge of artemisinin resistance".

Can one not prevent malaria simply by eradicating the mosquitoes that transmit it?

Killing the mosquitoes that transmit malaria – vector control – is an established method for controlling and preventing malaria, particularly in non-tropical areas at the margins of endemic areas. Even in areas where such mosquitoes are prevalent and difficult to eradicate one can prevent individual infection by methods such as insecticide-treated bed nets and indoor insecticide spraying.

The hundreds of millions of cases of malaria that actually develop each year around the globe are testament to the fact that relying on vector control alone is not sufficient. The control and eradication of malaria demands a multifaceted approach.

Why is research needed for both drugs and vaccines?

Defeating malaria requires a comprehensive approach. There is no magic bullet. Insecticide treated bed nets and insecticides as well as vector control measures can prevent malaria to a certain degree, but malaria infection continues unabated. Vaccines are a preventive measure and if and when a vaccine is developed it will help reduce the malaria burden enormously. Until then there will always be a need for improved and innovative treatment. As with all diseases, both prevention and cure are needed.

Thus, innovation for new drugs and effective vaccines needs to continue. Antimalarial drugs have already saved millions of lives and prevented many more infections from becoming life threatening. While an effective vaccine is still being developed a so called ‘presumptive treatment’ or ‘intermittent preventative treatment (IPT)’ with drugs today could have a ‘surrogate vaccine’ effect. Presumptive treatment may also allow a natural immunity to develop in high-risk individuals. Recent studies have found the IPT strategy to be particularly effective in preventing malaria in pregnant women.

Why are there so many ACTs in development in MMV’s pipeline?

Drug development is invariably risky. In developing these different artemisinin combination treatments (ACTs), MMV aims to ensure that several will succeed not only in being approved but also in being accepted in the market. Having different ACTs that are high quality also provides choices for healthcare providers, creates competition in the market and ultimately drives down the prices – a critical factor in promoting their widespread use.

Different combinations will also help prolong the life of each component drug as they will reduce the pressure mounted by drug resistance. Normally when resistance emerges it is specific to a particular medicine, and not to the entire class. (e.g. chloroquine resistance did not compromise the activity of all related antimalarials).

Additionally, we cannot assume that each medicine will be equally effective in all countries. Effectiveness varies depending on nutrition, ethnicity and also the strain of the parasite. In the end, our goal is to give the National Malaria Control Programmes as much choice as possible in the weapons they can deploy against malaria.

Read more about resistance in MMV's document "Meeting the challenge of artemisinin resistance".

How can I learn more about malaria?

Watch an animated video that explains the lifecycle of the malaria parasite.

View a poster that explains the lifecycle of the malaria parasite.

Learn about the 5 species of malaria.

See the definitions and symptoms of malaria.

Both the WHO and CDC have a wealth of malaria information available on their websites.