Since 2007, Merck has been supporting the World Health Organization (WHO) in the fight against schistosomiasis in Africa. Since the start of the Merck Praziquantel Donation Program, over 160 million tablets have been donated. To date, more than 38 million patients in total have been treated, consisting primarily of children. In 2012 alone, Merck provided 27 million tablets to the countries of Ethiopia, Cameroon, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, and the Central African Republic. In 2013, around 50 million tablets went to Angola, Ethiopia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Cameroon, the Republic of the Congo, Madagascar, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal, Zimbabwe, Sudan, and Tanzania.
Praziquantel is the most effective therapy to date for schistosomiasis infections - often even after just one dose - and it is well tolerated. It is therefore on the WHO list of essential drugs. The Merck Praziquantel Donation Program is conducted in partnership with WHO, each partner contributing its specific expertise. Merck’s role is to supply WHO with the tablets and to cover the logistic costs of transporting the tablets to Africa. WHO steers the distribution of praziquantel, monitoring drug distribution and disclosure.
In addition, Merck is also supporting an awareness program at African schools to explain the causes of schistosomiasis to children and teach them how to prevent the disease. To date, WHO has used the educational material in pilot projects underway in Senegal and Malawi. Merck is also working to improve the previous formulation of the tablets. Pharmaceutical experts are currently developing a fruity coating, which is to make it easier for children to take the tablets. Merck is conducting research on a pediatric formulation of praziquantel for preschool children within the scope of a public-private partnership. So far, praziquantel tablets can only be administered to children over the age of six.
|Location||Southern Africa, Central Africa, Eastern Africa, West Africa, Angola, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Congo, The Democratic Republic of, Congo, The Republic of, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Nigeria, Senegal, Southern Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, Zimbabwe|