MMV end-of-year review 2017

MMV end-of-year review 2017

It is with pleasure that I write to you about MMV’s work in 2017. This year ended on a high note for us when we learned of one story—In 2017, the first ever batch of 500,000 rectal artesunate suppositories (RAS) was delivered to the field for pre-referral treatment of severe malaria. In Zambia, where MMV partnered with Transaid to make the drug available, to train health workers in its use, and to get severely ill children to health centers by locally-run bicycle ambulance, we learned the story of how important this has been for one family: when an 18 month old child named Inness fell ill from malaria, she was administered RAS by a community health worker, who then referred the child to a clinic, to which she was transported by bicycle ambulance. Once there, Inness was then treated with Injectable Artesunate, followed by oral Coartem® Dispersible when she was able to hold down oral medication. 

This is only a single story, of course, told by her mother and shared by our partners. But for MMV it has tremendous resonance—in 2009, MMV was able to launch Coartem Dispersible with Novartis: to date 350M treatments have been delivered. In 2006, with partner Guilin, we were able to get prequalification of Injectable Artesunate: to date 100M treatments have been delivered. Our work with partner Cipla to get RAS reviewed by the Global Fund in 2016 paved the way for us to do the access work to get this critical medicine into the field. We are, step by step, moving deeper into the last mile with the products and the delivery systems required to save the lives of the world’s most vulnerable people.

This is in no way to diminish the challenges ahead of us. The recently-launched World Malaria Report 2017 relayed the worrisome news that although malaria has been pushed back since 2000, progress is slowing. Inness and the generations of children who will follow her will require MMV to continuously deliver on new products and delivery systems to stay ahead of the devastation that can be wreaked by this parasite. 

This work will require further years of focused innovation and collaboration to discover, develop and deliver. For example, the exciting development that MMV partner GSK has submitted tafenoquine to the US FDA and the Australian TGA for regulatory assessment is the result of literally decades of work of generations of scientists to get to a realistic hope that we may be arriving at the first single-dose medicine to cure relapsing malaria. This is a tremendous achievement, yet registration itself is not the end goal. If approved, we then have the hard road ahead of us to make sure that tafenoquine gets to the people who need it the most. 

Likewise, although the World Malaria Report rightly highlights the current containment of artemisinin resistant malaria in Cambodia, we continue to see partner drugs succumbing to resistance in various locations around the world. Thus, the deployment of newer products such as Shin Poong co-developed Pyramax®, as well as advancing the five next-generation drugs in our portfolio1 remains critical to combat resistance to all antimalarials.

Aware of all of these avenues that require our attention—facilitating equitable access to quality antimalarials; developing new tools to improve clinical case management; and investing in novel technologies to accelerate the progress of new molecules—MMV launched a new business plan that charts the course for our next five years. Drug development for malaria, indeed for all therapeutic areas, will require focus not just for the next quarter but for the next decade and we are committed to maintain the discipline that has already made the deployment of eight new products possible since our foundation in 1999. 

As we wrap up 2017, I particularly wanted to express our gratitude to the many organizations and individuals who make the work of MMV possible. This year, we were delighted that there was global recognition for several of our partners, including Drs Elizabeth Winzeler and John Burke, and Professors Awa Marie Coll-Seck, James McCarthy and Peter Kremsner. We are honored to have such partners, and to be working with very many more across the globe that have joined together in this work. On behalf of the patients such as Inness, and the million other young people whose lives have been saved by our co-developed medicines, I thank you for your contributions to this work. Together with you, we will do everything in our power to help end malaria for good.

Yours sincerely,

David Reddy, PhD
Chief Executive Officer - MMV

1. Tafenoquine, artefenomel/FQ, KAF156/LUM, DSM265, MMV048