Novartis announces 20% average reduction in price of malaria drug Coartem®

Novartis AGNovartis has announced a 20% average reduction in the price of Coartem® tablets (artemether/lumefantrine 20 mg/120 mg), the state-of-the-art artemisinin-based combination treatment (ACT) for malaria. Starting this Friday, which is World Malaria Day, this price reduction will increase access to Coartem for millions of malaria patients, especially children in low income regions of Africa.

Malaria is a devastating disease that affects 300 to 500 million people each year and causes nearly a million deaths annually[1]. Its toll is heaviest among young children and adolescents in Africa, where it is estimated that a child dies of malaria every 30 seconds[2]. In addition to being Africa's leading childhood killer, malaria also devastates families by causing the deaths of an estimated 10,000 mothers each year[5].

In a unique public-private collaboration with international organizations, Novartis provides Coartem to the public sector without profit. Since 2001, Novartis has supplied more than 160 million treatments to malaria-endemic countries.

To ensure a dependable supply of Coartem and to meet rising demand, Novartis has invested heavily to expand production capacity at state-of-the-art facilities in China and the United States. The recent efficiency increases in producing Coartem mean that the public sector price can now be reduced by an average of 20% compared to the 2007 price.

"We are pleased that Novartis is able to significantly reduce the price of Coartem which will further improve access to Coartem for patients in developing countries, helping to save even more lives. To date our ability to reliably supply significant quantities of our medicines has helped us save approximately 450,000 lives," said Dr. Daniel Vasella, chairman and CEO of Novartis. "The effectiveness of Coartem made it the leading ACT medicine in malaria-endemic countries."

The price reduction applies to all Coartem dosages including those for children and adolescents, who account for nearly 75% of patients taking Coartem. With the new lower price of USD 0.37 for children's doses*, countries will now be able to treat many more children than before.

Coartem, the only fixed-dose ACT that has been approved by a stringent, internationally-recognized health authority, is indicated for the treatment of acute uncomplicated falciparum malaria, the most dangerous form of malaria. Coartem is highly effective and well-tolerated, providing cure rates of up to 95% even in areas of multi-drug resistance[3],[4]. Combining two or more malaria drugs has the potential to prevent or delay the development of resistance.

About Novartis
Novartis AG (NYSE: NVS) provides healthcare solutions that address the evolving needs of patients and societies. Focused solely on growth areas in healthcare, Novartis offers a diversified portfolio to best meet these needs: innovative medicines, cost-saving generic pharmaceuticals, preventive vaccines and diagnostic tools, and consumer health products. Novartis is the only company with leading positions in these areas. In 2007, the Group's continuing operations (excluding divestments in 2007) achieved net sales of USD 38.1 billion and net income of USD 6.5 billion. Approximately USD 6.4 billion was invested in R&D activities throughout the Group. Headquartered in Basel, Switzerland, Novartis Group companies employ approximately 98,000 full-time associates and operate in over 140 countries around the world. For more information, please visit http://www.novartis.com.

Novartis was named a Super Sector Leader by the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI) in 2007. In the same year, 66 million patients around the world benefited from Novartis programs valued at USD 937 million. These initiatives range from drug donation and research programs to combat neglected diseases like malaria, tuberculosis and leprosy in developing nations, to patient assistance programs that help cancer patients receive the most innovative and effective treatments available. For further information, please consult http://www.novartis.com.

References
[1] Children and Malaria. World Health Organization Roll Back Malaria Web site. Available at: http://www.rbm.who.int/cmc_upload/0/000/015/367/RBMInfosheet_6.pdf. Accessed April 10, 2008.
[2] Malaria Fact Sheet. World Health Organization Website. Available at: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheet/fs094/en/. Accessed April 9, 2008
[3] van Vugt M, Looareesuwan S, Wilairatana P, et al. Artemether-lumefantrine for the treatment of multidrug-resistant falciparum malaria. Trans R Soc Trop Med Hyg 2000; 94: 545-548.
[4] Lefèvre G, Looareesuwan S, Treeprasertsuk S, et al. A clinical and pharmacokinetic trial of six doses of artemether-lumefantrine for multidrug-resistant Plasmodium falciparum malaria in Thailand. Am J Trop Med Hyg 2001;64: 247-256.
[5] Malaria in Pregnancy. World Health Organization Roll Back Malaria Web site. Available at: http://www.who.int/malaria/malariainpregnancy.html. Accessed November 7, 2005.

* For children up to 15kg

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