Schistosomiasis, also known as bilharzia and endemic in 78 developing countries, is a chronic inflammatory disease caused by parasitic worms. It is the second most prevalent parasitic disease after malaria, affecting nearly 240 million people worldwide, including 100 million children, with 90% of cases occurring in sub-Saharan Africa. Commonly associated with poor sanitation and no access to drinking water, schistosomiasis causes local and systemic effects, including progressive damage to organs; untreated, the disease can lead to anemia, stunting and reduced learning ability, and can be fatal.
The current gold standard treatment for schistosomiasis is Merck’s Praziquantel, an oral anti-helminthic proven to be safe and effective. The standard recommended Praziquantel treatment is available in oral immediate release tablets for adults and school-age children; a pediatric formulation suitable for treating younger children is lacking.
The Pediatric Praziquantel Consortium, launched in 2012, is an international, non-profit public-private partnership and combines the best science and most experienced public and private partners to develop, manufacture, register and launch a new pediatric formulation of praziquantel.