Pfizer and MMV advancing international research efforts in the fight against malaria

Pfizer and MMV advancing international research efforts in the fight against malaria

Pfizer Inc and Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV) have signed an agreement that is designed to facilitate advancements in the battle against malaria, a disease that afflicts vulnerable populations in the developing world each year. Under the agreement, MMV will have access to the Pfizer library of novel chemical entities, in order to screen it for compounds that have the potential to be developed into new treatments for malaria.

Malaria causes an estimated 881,000 deaths each year, of which over 90% are in Africa and 85% are children under 5 years of age.

“People are suffering in developing countries and we want to help by sharing resources and boosting research against tropical diseases,” said Dr. Rod MacKenzie, senior vice president of Research, Pfizer Global Research & Development. “Although this is early-stage research, which means that effective new treatments may only begin to be developed several years from now, it improves the chances of identifying compounds that may lead to new drugs. We believe public-private research collaborations are vital to tackling health challenges in developing countries, and we are confident our collaboration with MMV will further aid in the search for drugs with the potential to treat malaria.”

Under the agreement, scientists in institutes affiliated with MMV will test approximately 200,000 compounds in the Pfizer library against P. falciparum, the parasite that causes acute malaria, including multi-drug resistant strains. In a process called screening, researchers will seek to identify compounds that show initial activity against P. falciparum, and thus might form the basis for novel drug discovery programs to treat malaria. The screening will be undertaken at the Eskitis Institute for Cell and Molecular Therapies at Griffith University in Brisbane, Australia.

Building on a strong R&D portfolio, a new business structure to be even closer to the customer, a commitment to meeting the diverse medical needs of the world in an innovative and socially responsible manner, and its decades of philanthropic activities, Pfizer has committed valuable resources to the fight against malaria and is dedicated to closing the malaria treatment gap. Pfizer’s existing malaria product portfolio may be augmented with the artemisinin combination therapy DHA-Piperaquine* (in collaboration with sigma-tau), which is in late-stage clinical trials. Pfizer also has an ongoing azithromycin/chloroquine clinical program. “We are creating partnerships to improve the quality of healthcare and access to medicines for patients in the developing world,” stated Jean-Michel Halfon, president & general manager of Pfizer’s Emerging Markets Business Unit. “We cannot solve the problem alone, but are stepping forward to be a part of the solution.”

MMV has recently enlarged its mission to include the search for new antimalarial medicines that will contribute to the ultimate eradication of malaria. “This agreement with Pfizer will allow us to identify any promising compounds with antimalarial activity from their unique and extensive library of new chemical entities,” said Dr. Chris Hentschel, president and CEO of MMV. “To eradicate malaria the world needs new medicines that will not only treat and cure P. falciparum malaria, but also P. vivax malaria, a rarer form of the disease that is very difficult to cure. In addition, new drugs are needed to tackle emerging resistance, and stop parasite transmission from infected individuals. Having the opportunity to screen a wide array of compounds in the Pfizer library will help MMV build a strong pipeline of potential new antimalarials.”

Pfizer Inc: Working together for a healthier world™
Founded in 1849, Pfizer is the world’s premier biopharmaceutical company taking new approaches to better health. We discover, develop, manufacture and deliver quality, safe and effective prescription medicines to treat and help prevent disease for both people and animals. We also partner with healthcare providers, governments and local communities around the world to expand access to our medicines and to provide better quality health care and health system support. At Pfizer, more than 80,000 colleagues in more than 90 countries work every day to help people stay happier and healthier longer and to reduce the human and economic burden of disease worldwide.

Pfizer has a 25-year history in fighting malaria that includes four components: a robust portfolio of malaria medicines, a Pfizer-owned manufacturing and distribution facility in Dakar, Senegal which manufactures some of these medicines, investments in R&D to develop needed drugs for pregnant women and infants and the Mobilize Against Malaria philanthropy initiative where Pfizer is working with a number of partners to help close gaps in malaria treatment and education in sub-Saharan Africa. In 2008, Pfizer manufactured and shipped over five million malaria treatments from its Dakar warehouse and plant for distribution throughout Sub-Saharan Africa.

*DHA-Piperaquine was developed as a joint project between sigma-tau and MMV.

DISCLOSURE NOTICE: The information contained in this release is as of April 22, 2009. Pfizer assumes no obligation to update any forward-looking statements contained in this release as the result of new information or future events or developments.

This release contains forward-looking information that involves substantial risks and uncertainties about certain antimalarial product candidates and about an agreement to search for compounds that have the potential to be developed into antimalarial medicines. Such risks and uncertainties include, among other things, the uncertainties inherent in research and development; decisions by regulatory authorities regarding whether and when to approve any drug applications that may be filed for any such current and potential product candidates as well as their decisions regarding labeling and other matters that could affect their availability or commercial potential; and competitive developments. A further description of risks and uncertainties can be found in Pfizer’s Annual Report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2008 and in its reports on Form 10-Q and Form 8-K.


Media contacts:

Pfizer Media Contact:
Marco Winkler
+1 646 318 1264
+1 212 733 9313
marco.winkler [at]

MMV Media Contact:
Jaya Banerji, Head of Communications