Sanofi and PATH Deliver First Large-Scale Batch of New Malaria Treatment to Africa

- Leadership - Aug 18, 2014

French drug maker Sanofi and non-profit organisation PATH have announced the delivery of the first large-scale batches of antimalarial treatments to countries blighted by the disease in Africa.

It is manufactured with a new semisynthetic artemisinin derivative and signals a new era of lifesaving drugs made with safe, high-quality, and affordable artemisinin that is non- seasonal.

By complementing botanically-derived supplies, the new option can widen access to treatment for millions sickened by malaria every year - most of them young children in African countries.

More than 1.7 million treatments are being shipped from Sanofi’s distribution centre to Burkina Faso, Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Liberia, Niger, and Nigeria over the next few months.

Dr Robert Sebbag, vice president of Sanofi’s Access to Medicines, said: “This shipment represents a critical step in improving access to effective treatments and combatting malaria in some of the most affected countries in the world.”

“Sanofi is proud that these first batches of antimalarial medicines produced with semisynthetic artemisinin derivative are on the way to reaching patients. This milestone is the result of the enduring partnership between PATH and Sanofi that has translated years of effort into lifesaving change.”

Both artesunate, the active ingredient produced from semisynthetic artemisinin, and semisynthetic artemisinin itself, have been shown to be identical to those derived from botanical sources. Consequently, there are no changes to the quality of ASAQ Winthrop®.

Steve Davis, President and CEO of PATH, commented: “As we work together toward a world free of malaria, we are thrilled to see this cutting-edge technology reach the people whose lives it can save. We are proud to join Sanofi and our partners in celebrating this achievement.”

Artemisinin is a key ingredient in artemisinin-based combination therapies, recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) as the first-line treatment for infection with the most deadly form of malaria.

The existing botanical supply of artemisinin, derived from the sweet wormwood plant, is volatile due to a number of factors, resulting in inconsistent price and periodic shortages. Sanofi is committed to producing semisynthetic artemisinin using a no-profit, no-loss pricing model, and supplying it to WHO-prequalified manufacturers.

Multiple sources of high-quality artemisinin can strengthen the artemisinin supply chain, stabilise pricing, and ensure greater availability of treatment to people suffering from malaria.

The partnership for semisynthetic artemisinin is led by PATH’s Drug Development program, and is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The project began in 2004, and partners include Sanofi, the University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley), and Amyris.


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