UNITAID awards MMV-led consortium up to US$ 34 million

Grant will be used to accelerate access to live-saving medicines for severe malaria

11 Dec 2012

MMV is delighted to announce that a proposal from an MMV-led consortium has been accepted by UNITAID, making up to US$ 34 million available to scale-up the use of injectable artesunate (Inj AS) for severe malaria in disease-endemic countries. The Consortium includes the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI), the Malaria Consortium (MC), and the Partnership for Supply Chain Management (PFSCM.)

The funding will also accelerate the development of a WHO-prequalified intrarectal artesunate for pre-referral management of patients with severe malaria. The initial phase of development, including large scale clinical studies, were conducted by TDR. MMV hopes to build upon TDR’s work to bring the drug through the approval process and to patients. 

Severe malaria is a life-threatening condition that can rapidly ensue when uncomplicated malaria is not adequately treated. It affects more than 8 million people every year, claiming more than 655,000 lives – mostly those of children in sub-Saharan Africa.1  In 2010, the landmark AQUAMAT trial demonstrated that injectable artesunate provides a 22% survival benefit over quinine – the previous standard of care for severe malaria.2  Consequently, in 2011 the World Health Organization revised its standard treatment guidelines and recommended Inj AS as the preferred treatment for severe malaria.3  Since then, MMV has been working with partners on the ground to advance the adoption of this life-saving treatment

The UNITAID funding will now allow the consortium to accelerate the adoption of injectable artesunate in targeted malaria-endemic countries, expand access and prepare healthcare workers to quickly integrate this drug into their standard of care. The project will also contribute towards the creation of a sustainable market for the medicine by stimulating supplier demand and pursuing favourable terms for the drug’s pricing. Together, these interventions will contribute to the attainment of RBM/WHO’s goal of near zero deaths from malaria by 2015.
“This injection of funds from UNITAID is a huge boost for access to severe malaria treatment,” said David Reddy, MMV’s CEO. “It has been estimated that the use of injectable artesunate instead of quinine can save an additional 195,000 lives each year.4  We intend to ensure that these funds, entrusted to MMV and its partners, will bring WHO-prequalified injectable artesunate and the TDR-developed intrarectal artesunate to those in need as quickly as possible to save as many lives as possible.”

  1. World Health Organization. World Malaria Report 2011

  2. Dondorp AM et al. ‘‘Artesunate versus quinine in the treatment of severe falciparum malaria in African children (AQUAMAT): an open-label, randomised trial’’. Lancet. 376 (9753):1647-57 (2010).

  3. World Health Organization “Guidelines for the treatment of malaria, 2nd edition – Rev 1”

  4. Médecins Sans Frontières Access Report: “Making the Switch: Ensuring access to improved treatment for severe malaria in Africa”. 19 April 2011