MMV's CEO reflects on our achievements in 2011 and looks ahead to 2012
Dear MMV friends,
To welcome in the New Year, I would like to share an overview of MMV’s progress in 2011 and our plans for 2012.
It has been a busy year for us. We achieved two major successes: European Medicines Agency (EMA) approval of Eurartesim® (dihydroartemisinin -piperaquine) developed jointly by MMV and Sigma-Tau and approval, by the Korean FDA, of Pyramax® (pyronaridine-artesunate), co-developed with Shin Poong. Pyramax, too, is currently being reviewed by the EMA.
Several potential antimalarial compounds progressed through the pipeline. The leading one, the synthetic peroxide, OZ439, completed Phase 1 of clinical development and has moved into Phase 2a. Preliminary results for the phase 2a study presented at ASTMH showed that the compound is not only potent but also holds promise as a much sought after one-dose cure for P.vivax and P.falciparum infection.
Access and Delivery (A&D) activities continued apace, especially on the delivery of Coartem® Dispersible, an effective child-friendly ACT co-developed with Novartis: The year began with 53 million treatments delivered to 33 countries and ended with a landmark 92 million treatments to 35 countries. In addition, we worked with partner Guilin Pharmaceuticals on developing training materials to ensure acceptance and uptake of the WHO-prequalified injectable artesunate for severe malaria. MSF estimated that the use of this treatment could save up to 200,000 lives a year.
In Tanzania, MMV and partners, RBM, Novartis, Swiss TPH and Swiss Development Corporation, sponsored the nation-wide scale up of the SMS for Life programme led by the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare. This project uses SMS technology to monitor stock levels of medicines in health facilities, and contributes to upstream solutions to avoid stock-outs. All facilities (4,500) in the country are now trained & able to report.
On the organizational front, I joined the growing MMV team as CEO. During the last 12 months the management team has produced an interim 18-month business plan aligned to MMV’s vision of a world without malaria. The plan details the completion of MMV’s work on adult ACTs and its renewed focus on (i) delivering better medicines for malaria, including a single dose cure; (ii) addressing key unmet needs by developing medicines for vulnerable & under-served populations including children, pregnant women and patients with severe malaria; (iii) medicines with transmission blocking, relapse preventing and chemo-protective effects to support the elimination and eradication of malaria. A revised 5-year plan is just being finalized.
In June, our well-attended Stakeholders’ Meeting in Dar-es-Salaam was presided over by His Excellency President Kikwete of Tanzania. At this meeting, we bid farewell to the outgoing Chairman, Baroness Lynda Chalker and welcomed our new Chairman of the Board, Ray Chambers.
That very month, we suffered the loss of a dear colleague, Ian Bathurst. His dedication to the malaria cause and his infectious sense of humour is sorely missed. Ian would have been proud of MMV’s progress in 2011.
Towards the end of the year, we re-defined the concept of open innovation by making available, free of cost, the Malaria Box, a treasure trove of 400 diverse compounds with antimalarial activity. This was done to catalyse malaria and neglected disease drug discovery and research.
The year ended on a high note when, on behalf of MMV, Dr Dennis Schmatz presented oral and written testimony at a Congressional hearing in Washington DC on "Fighting Malaria: Progress and Challenges”. This was a great opportunity to inform the US Congress about MMV’s work and our role in the global fight against malaria.
We step into 2012, renewed, refreshed and ready to achieve our goals. We will be working to complete the registration of Pyramax and facilitate access by vulnerable populations to this and other new medicines, including injectable artesunate and Eurartesim. We will further enhance our understanding of the malaria market to help guide our A&D initiatives. Our Research and Development (R&D) efforts during 2012 will focus on the development of paediatric forms of dihydroartemisinin–piperaquine and pyronaridine-artesunate, continued evaluation of chloroquine/azithromycin in pregnant women, a strong focus on the continued development of more convenient drugs like OZ439 and NITD609, the development of tafenoquine for relapsing malaria, and progressing into the clinic new molecules that will support the elimination and eventual eradication of malaria.
Partnership is at the heart of our activities and is the key to our success. You are one of our respected and trusted partners, and we would like to take this opportunity to express our appreciation for your support over the years.
We wish you continued success in 2012, and look forward to making our partnership stronger and getting closer to our joint vision of a malaria-free world.
Happy New Year!