Posted by: APO | 26 June 2013

Novartis convenes international malaria experts to expand access to quality-assured antimalarial treatment in Africa


Novartis convenes international malaria experts to expand access to quality-assured antimalarial treatment in Africa

KAMPALA, Uganda, June 26, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/

•          Half of patients in Africa buy antimalarials from the private sector where wide availability of sub-standard treatmentisputting patient’s lives at risk

•          Malaria leadersfrom more than 25 African countries will explore solutions to eradicate sub-standard treatment in the private sector

•          Novartis launches global virtualmalaria community to facilitatesharing of best practice to speed up malaria elimination efforts

Today, national and international leaders from more than 25 countries across Africa are meeting, at the 12thannualNational Malaria Control Program (NMCP) Best Practice Sharing Workshop, to discuss the problem of sub-standard antimalarialsin Africa and address key topics and challenges faced by the malaria community.

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Novartis (http://www.novartis.com), with support from leading international organizations, including the Global Fund, Clinton Health Access Initiative, ACTwatch, the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics, and the Global Business Coalition, has developed a workshop program to address and explore these issues and increase efforts to combat malaria. This year’s NMCP workshop is themed “Expanding Access to Quality-Assured Artemisinin-based Combination therapies” (ACTs).

Commenting on the importance of these discussions, Prof. Bob Snow, Chairman of the Malaria Public Health Department at the KEMRI-Wellcome Trust, said: “The progress that has been made toward significantly reducing the malaria burden in Africa will be quickly undermined if we do not tackle the endemic problem of poor quality antimalarials in the private sector. The issue urgently needs to be addressed through a collaborative effort between governments and the wider malaria constituency so we can ensure that all patients have access to the best antimalarials available.”

Successful treatment of malaria depends on high-quality antimalarials, however, sub-standard, obsolete antimalarials, and oral artemisinin monotherapiesremain readily available in many African countries through the private sector. These treatments may contain too little or no active ingredient, thereby putting patients’lives at risk.

Evolving role of private sector in ensuring access to quality-assured antimalarials

The integration of the Affordable Medicines Facility for malaria (AMFm) into the core Global Fund grant processwill mean that in the future countries will need to specifically apply for and allocate resources to private sector strategies. This has the potential to impact patient access to quality-assured medicines as up to half of Africans purchase antimalarials through the private sector.In light of this, there is a need to explore how NMCPs will integrate private sector access to antimalarials into their overall malaria strategies.

Highlighting the significance of expanding access to quality-assured ACTs, Dr. Okui Albert Peter, the Program Manager of the NMCP in Uganda, said,”a large proportion of Africans source antimalarial treatments through the private sector but the quality of these treatments cannot always be guaranteed.Now more than ever, it is important that we develop sustainable solutions that do not solely rely on donor funding to ensure effective and affordable treatments reach patients that access their treatment through private sources.”

Novartis connecting the global malaria community to bring an end to malaria

Novartis will launch a virtual community to allow NMCP workshop participants to continue workshop discussions throughout the year. This private and by invitation only community will be hosted on a website of expert-led communities developed and managed by the Global Health Delivery Project at Harvard University, http://www.GHDonline.org. The platform will enable NMCP members to discuss new successes and challenges as well as practical solutions to improving malaria control and elimination strategies in their countries. It will allow usersto disseminate their work and to connect with almost 10,000 other members of public communities across different disease areas on GHDonline, who represent more than 2,800 organizations in 175 countries.

“With this virtual community, Novartis is set to be one of the first leading healthcare companies to support the professional exchange of knowledge between experts across geographies. Collaborations and ideas that will undoubtedly germinate in this platform will work to accelerate progress in the fight against malaria,” said Dr. Sungano Mharakurwa, the Scientific Director at the Macha Research Trust in Choma, Zambia.

NMCP Best Practice Sharing Workshops

Since the first pioneering workshop in 2006, NMCP Best Practice Sharing Workshops have been facilitating the exchange of experiences and best practice between countries, highlighting successes and challenges, raising awareness of new initiatives, and discussing practical solutions to the barriers to malaria prevention and treatment.

“The Novartis Malaria Initiative is proud to host the 12th NMCP workshop as these meetings have led to groundbreaking projects that have significantly impacted the control of malaria,” said Linus Igwemezie, Head of the Novartis Malaria Initiative. “We look forward to fostering new approaches to fighting malaria by bringing together the best minds and leaders in the field.Partnerships such as theseare vital in the fight against malaria.”

Groundbreaking projects have emerged from pastworkshops, such as the SMS for Life program to support more efficient stock management in rural health facilities, and the development of Coartem® Dispersible, the first Artemisinin-based Combination Therapy (ACT)specifically tailored to infants and children, and meeting the World Health Organization requirements for a pediatric antimalarial medicine, which was developed in collaboration with Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV).

Novartis is on track to reach the significant milestone of delivering 200 million treatments of Coartem® Dispersible in 2013. Never before have so many treatments been distributed in such a short time frame to assist children suffering from malaria.

Distributed by the African Press Organization on behalf of Novartis.

Notes to editors

About the Novartis Malaria Initiative

The Novartis Malaria Initiative focuses on improving access to treatment, helping communities deliver better healthcare and investing in research and development. The Initiative is one of the largest access-to-medicine programs in the healthcare industry and has been supporting patients in Africa for more than a decade. Since 2001, Novartis has delivered more than 600 million ACTs without profit to the public sector in over 60 malaria-endemic countries. In the last two years, Novartis and its partners have discovered two new classes of antimalarial compounds and have been honored by several groups, including the United Nation’s Innovation Working Group, for their work on “SMS for Life,” a tracking system that has helped to improve access to treatment in rural Africa. Novartis is always looking for innovative ways to help improve access to medicines in Africa and has recently joined forces with Malaria No More to support Power of One, a new campaign aiming to help accelerate progress toward the goal of ending malaria deaths. Joining forces against malaria: http://www.malaria.novartis.com

Disclaimer

The foregoing release contains certain forward-looking statements that can be identified by terminology such as “objective,” “will,” “target,” “committed,” or similar expressions. You should not place undue reliance on these statements. Such forward-looking statements reflect the current views of the Company regarding future events, and involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors that may cause actual results with Coartem to be materially different from any future results, performance or achievements expressed or implied by such statements. Management’s expectations could be affected by, among other things, unexpected regulatory actions or delays or government regulation generally; unexpected clinical trial results, including unexpected new clinical data and unexpected additional analysis of existing clinical data; unexpected pacing of artemisinin resistance; the company’s ability to obtain or maintain patent or other proprietary intellectual property protection; competition in general; government, industry and general public pricing pressures; the impact that the foregoing factors could have on the values attributed to the Novartis Group’s assets and liabilities as recorded in the Group’s consolidated balance sheet, and other risks and factors referred to in Novartis AG’s current Form 20-F on file with the US Securities and Exchange Commission. Should one or more of these risks or uncertainties materialize, or should underlying assumptions prove incorrect, actual results may vary materially from those anticipated, believed, estimated or expected. Novartis is providing the information in this press release as of this date and does not undertake any obligation to update any forward-looking statements contained in this press release as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.

About Novartis

Novartis (http://www.novartis.com) 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, cost-saving generic pharmaceuticals, preventive vaccines and diagnostic tools, over-the-counter and animal health products. Novartis is the only global company with leading positions in these areas. In 2012, the Group achieved net sales of USD 56.7 billion, while R&D throughout the Group amounted to approximately USD 9.3 billion (USD 9.1 billion excluding impairment and amortization charges). Novartis Group companies employ approximately 128,000 full-time-equivalent associates and operate in more than 140 countries around the world. For more information, please visit http://www.novartis.com.

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