Eisai Co., Ltd. (Headquarters: Tokyo, CEO: Haruo Naito, “Eisai”) announced that it provides tanks to supply clean water for the neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) measures to the endemic regions in Kenya in collaboration with Merck (Headquarters: Darmstadt, Germany).
As part of its efforts to improve access to medicines, Eisai manufactures diethylcarbamazine (DEC) tablets, a treatment for a NTD named lymphatic filariasis (LF), at its Visag Plant in India and provides these DEC tablets free of charge to endemic countries through the World Health Organization (WHO) elimination program. As of August 2019, Eisai has provided about 1.9 billion DEC tablets to 28 endemic countries1, including Kenya.
When LF becomes severe, it causes lymphatic dysfunction that leads to swelling of body parts such as the legs and the affected body parts become susceptible to bacteria. Therefore, it is important to keep the affected body parts clean with clean water.
On the other hand, Merck provides praziquantel tablets, a treatment for a NTD named schistosomiasis, free of charge to Kenya and 45 other endemic African countries. Schistosomiasis is caused by parasitic worms (helminths) living in freshwater such as rivers and lakes. Humans are infected with schistosomiasis when worm larvae enter through the human skin. Therefore, it is very important to supply clean water to prevent infection.
Eisai and Merck will jointly provide tanks to supply clean water necessary for measures to NTDs in the endemic areas, which are designated by Ministry of Health in Kenya and where it is difficult to secure clean water. Through this collaboration, Eisai and Merck will support the elimination of NTDs in these endemic areas.
Under its human health care (hhc) philosophy, Eisai seeks to contribute to the health and welfare of people in developing and emerging countries. Once they have recovered their health, they can resume productive activities, which will in turn contribute to economic development and expansion of the middle-income class. Eisai considers this to be a long term investment in creating the markets of the future. By accelerating the development of new medicines for infectious diseases endemic in developing and emerging countries via leveraging partnerships, together with implementing activities to improve access to medicines including raising disease awareness locally and implementing price setting models that take income levels into account, Eisai strives to further contribute to increasing the benefits for patients and their families worldwide.
Public Relations Department,
Eisai Co., Ltd.
[Notes to editors]
About Lymphatic Filariasis (LF)
LF is a neglected tropical disease (NTD) transmitted to humans via carrier mosquitoes. LF causes lymphatic dysfunction and can lead to the swelling of body parts such as legs, and cause severe pain, permanent disability and social stigma associated with disfiguring visible manifestations. As a result, patients suffer mental, social and financial losses. It is estimated that 886 million people in 52 countries worldwide, mainly those in developing countries, are exposed to the risk of LF. Elimination of LF is possible by stopping the spread of the infection through mass drug administrations (MDAs) of three types of LF treatments including DEC tablets.
About Eisai’s Commitment to Improving Global Access to Medicines including LF Elimination Program
In line with its hhc philosophy, Eisai is committed to improving global access to medicines over the medium-to-long term through partnership strategies that involve working with governments, international organizations, private entities and non-profit organizations.
In November 2010, Eisai agreed to supply a total of 2.2 billion DEC tablets to WHO free of charge by 2020, as there was a global shortage of high-quality DEC tablets for use in the MDAs. In 2012, Eisai became the only Japanese company to participate in the London Declaration, a coordinated effort to eliminate 10 NTDs and the largest public-private partnership of its kind in the field of global health. At the London Declaration’s fifth anniversary event held in April 2017, Eisai announced its plan to supply DEC tablets continuously after 2020, until LF is completely eliminated in all endemic countries where DEC tablets are needed.
As of August 2019, Eisai has supplied about 1.9 billion tablets 28 countries1 through WHO’s elimination program. Furthermore, in order to support the smooth implementation of WHO’s MDA programs, Eisai is engaging in initiatives to raise public awareness of LF and to support implementation of MDA in endemic countries. Staff members of Eisai Group cooperate with the relevant representatives in endemic countries to eliminate LF as early as possible. Eisai staff also prepare and distribute leaflets in the local languages on the prevention and treatment of LF.
In addition to the above-mentioned initiatives, Eisai is moving ahead with new drug development projects targeting malaria and neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) such as Chagas disease, mycetoma and lymphatic filariasis, based on partnerships with international non-profit organizations such as the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi) and Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV), as well as research organizations such as Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, University of Kentucky, and the Broad Institute.
Furthermore, Eisai co-established the Global Health Innovative Technology Fund (GHIT Fund), Japan’s first public–private partnership to advance development of new health technologies for the developing world, is a member of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Re:Search Consortium, an international joint enterprise for the development of treatments for NTDs, malaria and tuberculosis led by WIPO, is a signatory to the Tuberculosis Drug Accelerator (TBDA) partnership, and is participating in the Access Accelerated initiative to promote prevention and treatment of non-communicable diseases.
For further information on Eisai’s Access to Medicines initiatives, please visit the Access to Medicines page on the Eisai global website: https://www.eisai.com/sustainability/atm/index.html
Schistosomiasis is a chronic condition and one of the most common and most devastating parasitic diseases in tropical countries. It is estimated that more than 200 million people are infected worldwide and that around 280,000 die from it each year. Flatworms transmit the disease. It is widespread in tropical and subtropical regions where large sections of the populations have no access to clean water and sanitary installations. People become infected with the parasite via contact with freshwater, for example while working, swimming, fishing or washing their clothes. The miniscule larvae penetrate human skin, enter the blood vessels and attack internal organs. The infection rate is particularly high among school-aged children. Praziquantel is the only active ingredient with which all forms of schistosomiasis can be treated. WHO has therefore deemed praziquantel, the most cost-efficient solution for the health of patients in need, as the drug of choice.
The Merck Schistosomiasis Elimination Program
Merck initiated the Schistosomiasis Elimination Program in cooperation with WHO back in 2007. Since then, more than 900 million tablets have been donated, enough to treat 360 million school children. Merck has committed itself to maintaining its efforts in the fight against the tropical disease until schistosomiasis has been eliminated. To this end, each year Merck is donating up to 250 million tablets to WHO. The planned annual donation has a value of around US$ 28 million. In addition, Merck is supporting awareness programs at schools in Africa in order to educate children about the causes of schistosomiasis and ways to prevent it. Furthermore, as part of a public-private partnership, the company is researching a new formulation of praziquantel that can also be administered to very young children. To date, the tablets are only suitable for children older than six. At the end of 2014, Merck founded the Global Schistosomiasis Alliance together with partners such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the U.S. development agency USAID, the Schistosomiasis Control Initiative (SCI) and World Vision International.
1 American Samoa, Comoros, Dominican Republic, Egypt, Eritrea, Fiji, French Polynesia, Guyana, Haiti, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Kiribati, Lao PDR, Madagascar, Malaysia, Micronesia (FSM), Myanmar, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Samoa, São Tomé and Príncipe, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Tuvalu, Zambia, Zimbabwe (alphabetical order)