The FINANCIAL — GlaxoSmithKline announced it has joined other global pharmaceutical companies and leading organisations including the World Health Organization, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the UK Department for International Development and the US Agency for International Development in a new united effort to support developing countries to defeat neglected tropical diseases.
NTDs affect more than one billion people in developing countries, causing illness, disability and death, and increasing the burden on over-stretched health systems.1
This coalition will support the ambitious goals set out this week by the WHO to control or eliminate ten of the 17 diseases designated as NTDs by the end of the decade. This includes eliminating five diseases: lymphatic filariasis, guinea worm, blinding trachoma, sleeping sickness and leprosy, and controlling a further five: soil transmitted helminthes, schistosomiasis, river blindness, Chagas and visceral leishmaniasis by 2020.
In support of these goals, GSK has expanded its significant albendazole donation programme which targets two neglected diseases and has strengthened its commitment to support R&D efforts. GSK has today pledged to extend by an additional five years its commitment to donate 400 million albendazole tablets each year to the WHO to enable de-worming of school age children in all endemic countries. Expanding this programme, which was initially planned to run to 2015, will equate to an additional two billion tablets of albendazole being donated up to 2020.
GSK has also reaffirmed its commitment to supply all the albendazole needed to eliminate lymphatic filariasis worldwide by 2020. GSK currently donates 600 million tablets of albendazole each year to WHO to prevent transmission of lymphatic filariasis and has donated over two billion doses to the WHO to date. During 2000 to 2010, GSK donated over 2.6 billion albendazole treatments to 58 countries. The overall economic benefit of the lymphatic filariasis programme during 2000-2007 is conservatively estimated at US$ 24 billion.
GSK will continue to play an open and active role in developing new and better treatments for NTDs through collaborative partnerships such as with the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi), a not-for-profit R&D organisation. GSK shares knowledge, research and intellectual property with groups such as DNDi to support drug discovery efforts against diseases including sleeping sickness, visceral leishmaniasis and Chagas.
In addition, GSK continues to invest in its own active R&D programme for diseases that most affect developing countries, including NTDs. This R&D portfolio currently includes projects for Chagas, dengue, human African trypanosomiasis and leishmaniasis.