In 1987, MSD announced that it would donate MECTIZAN (Ivermectin), our breakthrough medicine for the treatment of onchocerciasis, to all who needed it for as long as needed. A multi-sectorial partnership was established with governments in countries where onchocerciasis is endemic, their ministries of health and other national and international stakeholders, including the World Health Organization, to ensure appropriate infrastructure, distribution and support. The Mectizan Donation Program is the longest-running, disease-specific drug donation program and public/private partnership of its kind, and is widely regarded as one of the most successful public/private health collaboration in the world.
In 1998, MSD expanded the MSD MECTIZAN Donation Program to include the prevention of lymphatic filariasis (LF), commonly referred to as elephantiasis, in African countries where the disease co-exists with river blindness. Over 400 million people are estimated to be at risk of infection in Africa.
To facilitate the donation and delivery of MECTIZAN, MSD established a multi-sectorial partnership, involving the World Health Organization (WHO), the World Bank and UNICEF, as well as ministries of health, nongovernmental development organizations and local communities. In 1988, MSD established the MECTIZAN Donation Program (MDP), housed at the Task Force for Global Health, to provide medical, technical and administrative oversight of the donation of MECTIZAN. In 1991, MSD, MDP and the WHO established the Non-Governmental Development Organization (NGDO) Coordination Group for Onchocerciasis Control.
For LF, the program collaborates with the Global Alliance to Eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis, a group of partners committed to developing political, financial and technical support for LF programs globally.
The WHO established goals to eliminate lymphatic filariasis and river blindness by 2020 and 2025, respectively.