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SA pioneers malaria breakthrough


Southern Times

By Gabriel Manyati

August 31, 2012

Johannesburg – A drug that has the potential to treat malaria has been pioneered by researchers at the University of Cape Town (UCT) in South Africa.

It is the first time a potential cure has been developed on African soil.

New malaria drugs are urgently needed, as there is there is growing resistance to existing treatments and no effective vaccine to protect people from infection.

Malaria is a huge killer in many other parts of the continent: one in four child deaths in Africa south of the Sahara is due to malaria; and the disease reduces the region’s GDP by an estimated US$12 billion a year.

In South Africa, malaria killed 89 people and affected another 9 866 last year, according to the Department of Health.

Malaria is transmitted by infected mosquitoes, with children and pregnant women being the most susceptible to it.

According to the World Health Organisation, there are an estimated 300 million acute cases of malaria globally each year.

And now a potential breakthrough has been made in South Africa.

“This is truly a proud day for African science and African scientists. Our team is hopeful that the compound will emerge from rigorous testing as an extremely effective medicine for malaria,” said Professor Kelly Chibale, the founder and director of the UCT’s Drug Development and Discovery Centre (H3-D).

It has been hailed as evidence that South Africa is pioneering advancements in the medical field.

The candidate drug, from a class of compounds called aminopyridines, was identified by a team led by Prof Kelly Chibale, working in collaboration with the nonprofit Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV).

The candidate drug, called MMV390048, has so far only been tested on rodents but the results are promising: it appears to be stable and safe, is effective against a variety of strains of the malaria parasite, and requires only a single dose to cure the animals of malaria, Prof Chibale said.

A single-dose cure would be ideal, because it would do away with the problem of people not finishing a course of treatment. If patients stop taking medication because they feel well again but before the parasite has been killed, it gives the parasite an opportunity to develop resistance to the drug.

The drug stays in the body for a long time, preventing regrowth of the parasite, which means it has the potential to block transmission of the parasite from one person to another, he said.

The compound has been patented, and research into its effects on malaria-infected rodents was published in the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry in March.

It has been selected by MMV’s scientific advisory committee for further clinical research. The next step will be to test its safety in a small group of healthy human volunteers in a phase one clinical trial.

The aim is to produce a drug that costs less than US$1 a day, so that it will be affordable to Africans, said Dr Leslie Street, head of medicinal chemistry and principal research officer at H3-D.

Even if all goes well with the clinical research, a new drug could still be three to five years down the road, he cautioned.

It is not clear at this stage whether the phase one trial will be carried out in South Africa, said Richard Gordon, regional representative for MMV, as there is limited local capacity to do this highly-specialised work.

Further work is also needed to identify a suitable company to manufacture MMV390048 in suitable quantities for the clinical trials.

Prof Chibale and his colleagues worked with scientists from the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, the Centre for Drug Candidate Optimisation at Australia’s Monash University and India’s Syngene to home in on the candidate drug.

Their work was given a kick-start by researchers at Griffith University in Australia, who screened about six million compounds to identify the aminopyradine series from which MMV390048 was isolated.

Africa: Unicef to Save U.S.$ 22 Million Through Transparency in Buying Bed Nets


AllAfrica.com

June 6th, 2012

New York/Copenhagen — UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake said today that a more transparent and competitive market will lead to savings of more than US$20 million over the next 12 months through a price reduction of 20 per cent for bed nets that protect people from malaria.

“Especially at a time of financial uncertainty, these savings are good news for governments and even better news for children,” he said during the annual session of the UNICEF Executive Board in New York.

“Never before have bed nets been as accessible and affordable for children and families in developing countries,” said Shanelle Hall, Director of UNICEF’s Supply Division in Copenhagen.

“This is the result of a long-term strategy to create a healthy global market for bed nets, where high quality goods can be purchased in bulk at a fair price, and demonstrates UNICEF’s commitment to value for money,” she added.

The price of an insecticide-treated, long-lasting bed net has dropped to under $3.

This reduction followed projected cost savings and cost avoidances for vaccines and child survival supplies worth a total of US$735 million in the coming years, according to UNICEF Supply’s Annual Report 2011.

These included a projected $498 million in costs avoided in rotavirus vaccine procurement between 2012 and 2015 due to a price reduction. Diarrhoea is the second largest cause of under-five child deaths and the vaccine protects against the most virulent strains.

Some US$60 million in savings was secured for oral polio vaccine procurement for supply in 2011 and 2012.

As more countries reach zero transmission of polio and hope to stop buying vaccines, UNICEF and its partners have worked to stop suppliers from exiting the market too early.

Another $153 million in price decreases were obtained for pentavalent vaccines, which protect children against diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, hepatitis B and haemophilus influenza type B, as a result of an increasingly competitive supplier base and the entry of new suppliers into the market.

Price reductions for ready-to-use therapeutic food – used to treat severe acute malnutrition in children under five – were also significant with an 8 per cent fall from 2010 to 2011.

These results were achieved in partnership with the UN Secretary-General‘s Special Envoy for Malaria, the GAVI Alliance, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, UNITAID, the Roll Back Malaria Partnership and the African Leaders Malaria Alliance.

The strategies implemented to achieve these savings include aggregating demand and pooling procurement to help achieve economies of scale, transparent and long-term forecasts to industry, volume guarantees, special financing terms and clear quality requirements.

In 2011, UNICEF made available on its website the prices it pays for vaccines. In 2012, the prices paid for ready-to-use food and bed nets were also published. The availability of this information improves market transparency and efficiency, and supports governments and partners in making more informed decisions.

The announcement on bed nets came shortly before the launch of a major global initiative on child survival in Washington, D.C. on 14-15 June convened by the Governments of the Ethiopia, India and the United States with 700 leaders and global experts from government, the private sector and civil society.

Indian drug firms target African anti-malarial market


Business Line

P. T. JYOTHI DATTA

Mumbai-February 22, 2012

It was a decision grounded in practical reasons, but Bliss GVS Pharma’s strategy to sell its anti-malarial medicines through retail channels in African countries seems to have worked for it.

It managed to steer away from large players including Indian drug-makers like Cipla and Ipca, active in the global-funds-driven Government tenders market in these countries.

But that is poised to change – the African anti-malarial drugs market is set to get stirred. Bliss is preparing to make a play for the funds-driven segment, and companies like Cipla are eyeing the private, retail market. Africa accounts for over 80 per cent of the global malaria incidence.

Bliss targeted the retail market as its manufacturing facility was old and would not have passed World Health Organisation (WHO) specifications, says Managing Director, Mr S.N. Kamath, rather candidly. Positioning itself in a niche segment, the company targeted 26 African markets, with the exception of Botswana and South Africa, he said.

But over the next six to 12 months, Bliss is targeting the tender-driven market – where the Government sources large volumes from companies that offer medicines at reasonable prices. These Government-run programmes are supported by global funding organisations including UNAIDS, the Gates Foundation and the Global Fund for AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

With India being home to several manufacturing facilities that meet global regulatory standards, Mr Kamath says, Bliss will tie up with a third-party to manufacture anti-malarials and target the African tender market. About 80 per cent of Bliss’ over Rs 220-crore turnover comes from exports and a lion’s share of that comes from anti-malarials…Read more.

The Global Fund proposes joint action to prevent theft of medicines


The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis an...
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GENEVA – The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria will invite major international funders of drug supplies to developing countries, technical and law enforcement agencies and implementers of health programs to intensify joint efforts to prevent theft of medical drugs.

The Global Fund will invite the agencies to take concerted action to stem drug thefts, ranging from information-sharing and joint strengthening of procurement and distribution capacity in developing countries to applying stringent security measures around drug storage and transport. A preliminary meeting will be held in January to draw up a joint action plan.

Theft of drugs is an old and persistent problem in developed and developing countries alike, especially for drugs that may be cheap or free in the public sector but fetch high prices on the open market or in neighboring countries with different pricing policies. Problems are exacerbated by limited resources and imperfect distribution systems in many of the world’s poorest countries. Read more

Ghana- Storm over $130 million grant to Anglogold


The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis an...
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AfricaFiles no.25153, March 18, 2011

The Ghana Coalition of NGOs in Health (GCNH) has questioned the selection of AngloGold Ashanti by the Global Fund for HIV, Tuberculosis and malaria control, to carry out malaria programmes in Ghana. AngloGold received an amount of about $130 million last year to extend its malaria programme to 40 districts in the Ashanti, Western, Northern, Upper East and West, Regions. The coalition argues that it is often civil society organizations that are responsible for such activities in all countries, and is therefore baffled as to why in Ghana a multinational company was given that mandate. According to the group, the whole nation could have benefited from the amount if it had been given the money as it has members nationwide who could have prosecuted the programme unlike AngloGold which is doing the work only in districts of aforementioned Regions.

It alleged that AngloGold made a huge profit last year and could have organized the amount of money it has been given for such an assignment as corporate social responsibility. “Is it fair for a company that makes such profit to be given such grant meant for the whole country? The Global Fund gathers money from other multinational companies in the world therefore it is not fair that AngloGold should be the principal recipient,” Dr. Joan Awunyo-Akaba, National Chairperson of the coalition argued. She continued, “If it is true that AngloGold is trying to set up its NGO so it can share the money as a sub-recipient then I think it is unethical. Our information is that AngloGold has used only about $6 million of the money and has not covered even the slated districts. The money belongs to the people of Ghana so it is not too late for the company to get in touch with the coalition and work with us.Read more

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