From diagnostics innovation to tackling counterfeit medicines: an integrated approach to fighting ma
Merck is marking the World Malaria Day 2019 by showcasing its integrated and collaborative approach against malaria
Today is World Malaria Day!
Merck has been engaged for the last 5 years in the battle against malaria, a disease that still impacts millions over the world and takes hundreds of thousands of lives every year. Its important societal and economic impact is recognized by the international community; Merck has made of the fight against ‘malaria’ a pillar of the Global Health strategy of the Company.
With its 350-year history, Merck is a leading science and technology company for innovative high-tech products in the pharmaceutical and chemical sectors dedicated to enhancing the quality of human life around the world. Through its Global Health Institute , it is particularly engaged in developing and providing access to innovative health solutions (including preventive measures, diagnostics and treatments) for infectious diseases to underserved and vulnerable populations.
For malaria, the Institute has developed a diversified portfolio of projects under the ’One Merck for Malaria’ program. This program has been leveraging internal competencies as well as expertise from external partners to deliver transformative products and services based on science and technology innovation.
This truly collaborative program applies an integrated approach for: the development of the next generation of anti-malarial drugs and of highly sensitive diagnostics, the identification of new methods for transmission prevention as well as the implementation of research education programs to enhance research capabilities in developing countries.
More recently, the ‘One Merck for Malaria’ program has further broadened its scope by also looking at new technologies against falsified medicines for antimalarials. Falsified medicines expose millions of people to dangerous conditions that can lead to death. This issue is also triggering increased resistance in malaria and other infectious diseases.
In the last decades, Merck has been active in the fight against falsified medicines through the Global Pharma Health Fund (GPHF) Minilab™, a portable mini-laboratory for rapid drug quality verification and counterfeit medicines detection through a semiquantitative method, totally funded by Merck.
In 2018, the Global Health Institute joined forces with an academic institution to test, validate and optimize a new user-friendly cartridge-based technology to qualitatively and quantitative assess the validity of drugs. This portable tool created on Prof. Muhammad Zaman’s lab is also intended for developing countries and adapted to medicines supply chain end-users: pharmacies, wholesalers and health centers.
“The Company is investing in technologies that might help assuring drug quality and preventing drug resistance” said Beatrice Greco, Head of R&D & Access at the Merck Global Health Institute.
“We see a potential, that this new technology might go from prototype to an affordable and accurate field device in a couple of years” added Nuno Martins, Leader of this program and Diagnostic Manager at the Institute.
Indeed, the aim is to have an easy-to-use portable device that will be made available to health providers and that will represent a critical tool to impact the growing issue of falsified and substandard medicines.
A presentation on the topic is planned at the ISNTD d3 Conference in October 2019. Thus, please stay tuned for more updates to come.
Malaria remains the most frequent cause of death for children under the age of five in developing countries. Nearly half of the world’s population is at risk of malaria every year. Furthermore, more than 200 million malaria cases and over 400,000 malaria deaths are recorded every year in about 90 different countries. About 90% of these deaths occur in Africa – 78% in children below 5 years of age. Despite an existing product portfolio and pipeline, there is an urgent need for new products to overcome the problem of increasing drug resistance and to achieve the goal of complete elimination.
Merck, a leading science and technology company, operates across healthcare, life science and performance materials. Around 52,000 employees work to make a positive difference to millions of people’s lives every day by creating more joyful and sustainable ways to live. From advancing gene editing technologies and discovering unique ways to treat the most challenging diseases to enabling the intelligence of devices – the company is everywhere. In 2018, Merck generated sales of € 14.8 billion in 66 countries.
Scientific exploration and responsible entrepreneurship have been key to Merck’s technological and scientific advances. This is how Merck has thrived since its founding in 1668. The founding family remains the majority owner of the publicly listed company. Merck holds the global rights to the Merck name and brand. The only exceptions are the United States and Canada, where the business sectors of Merck operate as EMD Serono in healthcare, MilliporeSigma in life science, and EMD Performance Materials.
Merck Global Health Institute
Announced in 2017, the Institute is part of the Global Health organization within the Corporate Affairs Group Function at Merck:
Its mission is to develop and provide access to transformative and integrated health solutions (treatments, diagnostics, vector controls and system strengthening approaches) to the most vulnerable populations suffering from infectious diseases: schistosomiasis, malaria and bacterial infections/anti-microbial resistance.
Applying the shared value concept, the Institute operates as a social business unit which is designed to address key social challenges by ensuring access and affordability of solutions for the targeted underserved populations.
Its operating model is also based on partnerships and collaborations with institutions in both developing and developed countries, and synergies the internal experience across different business sectors of Merck.
In just few years, the unit moved from an incubator to an internationally recognized Institute, highlighted as a leading practice to accelerate R&D, incorporate access provisions and build local capacity in developing countries, in the Access to Medicine Index 2018 report.
Please visit the Institute’s website to know more.
More on the ‘One Merck for Malaria’ program
Led by the Global Health Institute, the program embeds a portfolio of innovative projects for developing the next generation of anti-malarial treatments through the screening of the Merck compound library in a Merck co-sponsored African based drug discovery platform; the clinical development of a New Chemical Entity from a new class of antimalarials; the development of highly sensitive malaria diagnostics; the identification of new methods for transmission prevention; the feasibility of new technologies to fight falsified medicines; initiatives to enhance research capabilities in endemic countries through educational programs in and for Africa.
These programs are implemented through partnerships and collaborations with public and private institutions.
Spotlights on the program for more information.
About falsified and substandard medicines
The falsified medicines market is estimated by INTERPOL to move 200 billion USD annually. This serious issue is causing around 1 million deaths per year due to the use of ineffective and/or even toxic products.
There are two different main markets for falsified medicines: the developed world and the developing world. Interpol is acting on both scenarios.
In the developed world, the main channel is through Internet sales and direct shipment, mainly for lifestyle medicines. In the developing world, informal distribution system concentrates on antibiotics and drugs treating malaria and tuberculosis, for example.
To find out more:
Merck Global Health Institute: www.merckglobalhealthinstitute.com