A new study published in The Lancet suggests that the combination of artemether and lumefantrine, available from Novartis under the brand name Coartem, is the most effective available treatment for malaria in children in areas of Africa where resistance to conventional anti-malarial drugs is high. Developed and produced by Novartis and its Chinese partners, Coartem is currently the only fixed-dose artemisinin-based combination therapy pre-qualified by the World Health Organization (WHO) for procurement by United Nations agencies.
Recently, the Global Fund to Fight HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria approved a grant of USD 170 million to seven African nations for the procurement of Coartem over the next two years.
"These new clinical data confirm that Coartem is the current gold standard to treat malaria in areas of high resistance to conventional anti-malarials and is as such a life-saving drug," said Dr. Daniel Vasella, Chairman and CEO of Novartis. "When combined with the most recent financing commitment from the Global Fund, these results underpin our efforts to rapidly ramp up the production of Coartem."
Since 2001, Novartis has supplied more than six million treatments of artemether-lumefantrine on a non-profit basis for distribution to the public sector in malaria-endemic developing countries. Production of Coartem, currently the leading artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT), has increased from 100,000 treatments in 2002 to a projected 30 million treatments in 2005. The original 2001 agreement between Novartis and the WHO forecast demand for Coartem at just over two million treatments in 2005. Since then, non-binding demand forecasts provided by WHO have continuously increased, including a six-fold jump in the 2005 demand forecast between December 2003 and March 2004. In this three month period, the WHO demand forecast surged from 10 million to 60 million treatments.