Sanofi Commits to Eliminate or Control Five Neglected Tropical Diseases

Feb 1, 2012 11:00 AM ET
(3BL Media / theCSRfeed) February 1, 2012 - Sanofi (EURONEXT: SAN and NYSE: SNY) announced on January 30th, 2012, a new partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Eisai to join the World Health Organization’s existing Global Programme to Eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis in 2020, and further commitments to the World Health Organization (WHO) to eliminate Human African Trypanosomiasis, also known as sleeping sickness, by 2020.   “I am very pleased with the new partnership announced today with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Eisai and the World Health Organization,” said Christopher A. Viehbacher, Chief Executive Officer of Sanofi. “I am convinced that through our partnerships and combined efforts, sleeping sickness and lymphatic filariasis will be eliminated and effective control of other neglected tropical diseases will be achieved. We are committed to fulfill those ambitions in line with our mission to act with all our partners to protect health and raise the hopes of patients.”   The new partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Eisai will join the WHO’s existing Global Programme to Eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis in 2020. This consortium, the first of its kind, will donate in 2012 and 2013, 120 million tablets of DEC (diethylcarbamazine), allowing the WHO to provide treatment for 30 million people. Subsequently, EISAI will begin a Lymphatic Filariasis Elimination Partnership with WHO and will continue to provide DEC at "zero-price" until 2020.   The collaboration between Sanofi and the WHO began in 2001 to battle Neglected Tropical Diseases such as Sleeping Sickness, Leishmaniasis, Buruli ulcer, Chagas disease. Since the start of the partnership, over 170,000 patients have been treated for sleeping sickness, a usually fatal disease if left untreated, and the number of reported new cases of sleeping sickness fell from 30,000 in 2001 to less than 7,200 in 2010.   Sanofi has developed a comprehensive strategy in Access to Medicines based on four pillars: Medicines, Research & Development, Industrial Development, and Information, Education and Communication programs for healthcare professionals and patients. It is focused on four disease areas: Neglected Tropical Diseases: sleeping sickness, Chagas disease, Buruli ulcer, leishmaniasis and lymphatic filariasis, Pandemic Diseases: malaria and tuberculosis, Chronic Diseases: epilepsy and mental diseases, and Vaccines: dengue and rabies.     About “Uniting to Combat Neglected Tropical Diseases” The commitments announced by Sanofi are a key part of a new, coordinated push by a diverse range of public and private partners to combat 10 Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) by 2020. Today, 13 pharmaceutical companies, the U.S. and U.K. governments, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the World Bank and officials from NTD-endemic countries pledged to bring a unique focus to defeating these diseases and to work together to improve the lives of the billion people worldwide affected by NTDs.   In the largest coordinated effort to date to combat NTDs, the group announced at an event at the Royal College of Physicians that they would: sustain or expand existing drug donation programs to meet demand through 2020; share expertise and compounds to accelerate research and development of new drugs; and provide more than US$785 million to support R&D efforts and strengthen drug distribution and implementation programmes. The partners also signed onto the “London Declaration on Neglected Tropical Diseases,” in which they pledged new levels of collaboration and tracking and reporting of progress.   New commitments will fully fund work toward the eradication of Guinea worm, as well as expedite progress toward the 2020 goals of: elimination for lymphatic filariasis, blinding trachoma, sleeping sickness and leprosy; and control of soil-transmitted helminthes, schistosomiasis, river blindness, Chagas and visceral leishmaniasis.   Website:   About Sanofi Access to Medicines:   About Neglected Tropical Diseases One billion people(1) are at risk of or are affected by tropical diseases that the international community considers to be “neglected diseases.” These diseases often affect communities living in remote rural areas, in urban slums and or in conflict zones with poor living and hygiene conditions. The continued support of endemic countries and the increased awareness within the international community are fundamental factors for the elimination and control of these diseases.   Lymphatic filariasis, commonly known as elephantiasis, is a threat to more than 1.3 billion people in 81 countries worldwide. Over 120 million people are currently infected, with about 40 million disfigured and incapacitated by the disease. Lymphatic filariasis can result in an altered lymphatic system and the abnormal enlargement of body parts, causing pain and severe disability.   Human African trypanosomiasis (or sleeping sickness) is a parasitic disease transmitted by the bite of an infected Glossina insect, commonly known as the tsetse fly. The disease affects mostly poor populations living in remote rural areas of Africa. Left untreated, human African trypanosomiasis is generally fatal.   Leishmaniasis is a disease caused by protozoan parasites, and transmitted by the bite of infected sandflies. It exists in two forms, a visceral form, affecting notably the liver and spleen, and a cutaneous form affecting the skin. 1.6 million new cases are estimated to occur annually.   Chagas disease is caused by the protozoan parasite Trypanosoma cruzi and affects approximately 10 million people worldwide, principally in Latin America. In the chronic phase, 30% of patients will develop cardiac disorders.   Buruli ulcer is a chronic necrotising skin disease caused by infection with Mycobacterium ulcerans. It has been reported from over 33 countries, with the principal foci situated in sub-Saharan Africa. Early diagnosis and treatment with antibiotics can prevent the appearance of large ulcers, which take long periods to heal and may require hospitalisation.   (1) WHO source: « Working to overcome the global impact of neglected tropical diseases », First WHO report on Neglected tropical diseases, 2010, consulted on Sept 13th, 2011.   SANO20628