Malaria is a preventable and treatable yet life-threatening disease, caused by parasites (primarily Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax). These are transmitted to people through the bite of infected mosquitoes. Infants and young children are among those most at risk of contracting malaria, with currently 70% of malaria deaths occurring in children under the age of 5 years. While this number has fallen significantly by 71% since 2000, malaria still kills a child every two minutes.
"This milestone underscores our long-standing commitment to the fight against malaria and to the children who are most at risk from the disease," said Joseph Jimenez, CEO of Novartis. "We are proud of the part we have played in helping to reduce childhood deaths from malaria. And we continue to provide medicine at no profit to people who need it, contributing to the goal of a world free from the disease."
Coartem® Dispersible is the pediatric formulation of Coartem®, a combination of Artemether and Lumefantrine (AL) and the standard of care for millions of malaria patients around the world. Coartem® Dispersible was developed by Novartis and Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV), supporting the UNICEF/WHO call to develop child-friendly medicines. The WHO guidelines for the treatment of Malaria recommend dispersible tablets rather than liquid formulations for children and infants. As a sweet-tasting tablet that dissolves quickly in small amounts of water, Coartem® Dispersible was the first WHO prequalified child-friendly ACT.
"This is a fantastic achievement and we are proud to have partnered with Novartis on the development of Coartem® Dispersible, helping children who are most at risk of this deadly disease," said Dr David Reddy, CEO of MMV. "The WHO World Malaria Report 2015 shows that we are making significant strides in reducing child mortality from malaria, and this is largely thanks to sustained international commitment and the availability of a range of innovative tools and solutions, including quality child-friendly medicines like Coartem® Dispersible. MMV applauds Novartis for making this important drug widely available on a no-profit basis to children in need and achieving this significant milestone."
About Coartem® Dispersible
Coartem® Dispersible is used for infants and children weighing 5 kg to less than 35 kg and 12 years of age or less, with acute, uncomplicated infections due to Plasmodium falciparum or mixed infections including P. falciparum.
Sweet tasting and easily dispersed in water, Coartem Dispersible eases administration and enables accurate dosing for children, the most vulnerable group of malaria patients. The medication was approved by Swissmedic in 2008 and has now been approved in over 40 countries.
About the Novartis Malaria Initiative
The Novartis Malaria Initiative is one of the pharmaceutical industry's largest access-to-medicines programs, focused on treatment, access, capacity-building and research & development. Since 2001, the initiative has delivered more than 750 million treatments without profit, mostly to the public sector. Novartis is committed to working towards malaria elimination by researching and developing the next-generation antimalarials, with two new classes of drugs currently in Phase II clinical development.
Novartis provides innovative healthcare solutions that address the evolving needs of patients and societies. Headquartered in Basel, Switzerland, Novartis offers a diversified portfolio to best meet these needs: innovative medicines, eye care and cost-saving generic pharmaceuticals. Novartis is the only global company with leading positions in these areas. In 2014, the Group achieved net sales of USD 58.0 billion, while R&D throughout the Group amounted to approximately USD 9.9 billion (USD 9.6 billion excluding impairment and amortization charges). Novartis Group companies employ approximately 120,000 full-time-equivalent associates. Novartis products are available in more than 180 countries around the world.