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

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.

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