Every year, at least 230 million people require treatment for schistosomiasis, a neglected tropical disease which can damage organs and impair the growth and cognitive development of children. Of those in need, only 33 million received treatment in 2010. Though highly effective treatments of the drug praziquantel (PZQ) are available for only $0.08/pill, access to sufficient global manufacturing capacity has remained a key barrier to scale-up.
In recent years, PZQ treatment programs have received increasing attention and funding, with commitments from major donors and suppliers to more than double by 2014. Global drug supply has not kept pace however. R4D’s involvement has focused on securing adequate PZQ manufacturing capacity and a sustainable marketplace, ensuring that over 100 million more individuals globally gain access to this vital treatment.
Starting in September 2011, with support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, R4D has been working to:
- Increase global PZQ production: R4D has actively engaged eight suppliers in India, China, Korea, and Europe to map available production capacity, identify opportunities for scale-up, and leverage market incentives to achieve this.
- Introduce new suppliers: R4D is working with two emerging manufacturers in Spain and China to facilitate successful market entry and generate a more diverse manufacturing base.
- Secure the global supply chain: R4D is developing a set of medium-term market strategies focused on achieving sustainable pricing levels, ensuring high-quality production, and driving a competitive supplier base. In coming months R4D will be working closely with major donors such as USAID, DFID, and Merck; regulators such as the WHO; and other actors including the Gates Foundation to implement these.