Thursday, 12 April 2007


The Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative.

I hadn’t heard of it before today. It is based in Switzerland, a non-for-profit organisation which develops drugs and systems for treating diseases which typically occur almost exclusively in developing countries.

Some of theses diseases such as malaria and tuberculosis are seen in developed countries as a result of travelling, but the drugs produced by the large pharmaceutical companies are generally too expensive for use in developing nations. Other diseases such as sleeping sickness, Chagas disease, leishmaniasis, normally never occur in wealthier nations so the drug companies have no incentive to manufacture them because the financial rewards are minimal.

The reason I came across it was because they have produced a new anti-malaria drug called ASAQ which is effective, simple to take and inexpensive. It will not be patented, so ensuring its availability to anyone who needs it.

  • Malaria, is, with HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis, one of the three most important diseases in Africa according to WHO. It is a major cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide, and consumes 25% of household incomes in Africa.
  • The disease is present in over 100 countries and threatens half of the world’s population.
  • Every year, 350 to 500 million cases of malaria occur worldwide, with over 1 million deaths, affecting mostly children in sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Malaria remains the single largest cause of death for children under five in Africa, where it kills one child every 30 seconds – this translates to the deaths of approximately 3,000 children every day.


  1. A.,
    Interesting article in the science and technology section of the Economist (I think 2 issues ago) on combatting malaria through the mosquito, rather than medicinal or physical measures (netting,e.g.).

  2. Indeed it did, I found it here. Thanks again janeway!


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