Tuberculosis :: Eli Lilly invests $50 million for MDR tuberculosis

Eli Lilly and Company announced plans to invest an additional $50 million in an innovative, global partnership to fight Multi-Drug Resistant Tuberculosis (MDR-TB). The announcement is being made in conjunction with World TB Day activities.

This new commitment furthers Lilly’s support of a pioneering initiative started in 2003, and brings the total Lilly investment to $120 million. The funding supports a multi-pronged strategy to increase the supply and availability of effective drugs for treating the complex and life-threatening disease; training for front-line health care personnel; and efforts to focus global resources on prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of MDR-TB.

Highly contagious, difficult to treat, and a growing threat to global public health, MDR-TB strikes about 450,000 people each year, with the highest rates of prevalence in China, India, South Africa and the countries of the former Soviet Union. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that the average MDR-TB patient infects up to 20 other people in his or her lifetime and cases of MDR-TB have been found in virtually every country surveyed by WHO. When drugs used to treat MDR-TB are misused or mismanaged, the even more virulent Extreme Drug Resistant TB (XDR-TB) can develop.

The Lilly MDR-TB Partnership is an international alliance of 14 public and private organizations, including businesses, humanitarian organizations, academic institutions, and professional health care associations.

“Eli Lilly and Company understands its role in the global battle against MDR-TB and recognizes its responsibility to those afflicted by this deadly disease,” said Sidney Taurel, Lilly’s chairman and chief executive officer. “These additional funds will extend our commitment to transferring the technologies and improving the support systems needed to stop the spread of MDR-TB.”

A cornerstone of the Lilly MDR-TB Partnership is its success in influencing key MDR-TB policies around the world including introducing new treatment protocols and convincing the global health care community that treating MDR-TB is just as important as treating primary TB. More than 40 countries now have health policies addressing MDR-TB.

Dr. Paul Farmer, physician, medical anthropologist and founding director of Partners in Health, was one of the first to approach Lilly about investing in this effort. He described the Lilly MDR-TB Partnership as unique among public/private efforts.

In addition to Partners in Health, those in Lilly’s MDR-TB Partnership include the International Council of Nurses, International Federation of the Red Cross & Red Crescent Societies, International Hospital Federation, Purdue University, TB Alert, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), World Economic Forum, World Health Organization/Stop TB Partnership, and World Medical Association. Each of the partner organizations are contributing to the success in changing the MDR-TB treatment paradigm.

Another centerpiece of Lilly’s MDR-TB Partnership is the transfer of technologies and expertise needed to manufacture two Lilly antibiotics used to treat MDR-TB, capreomycin (Capastat(R)) and cycloserine (Seromycin(R)), to facilities in the highest-burdened countries. Since 2003, Lilly has transferred its technology, formula and trademark to generic drug makers, including Aspen Pharmacare (South Africa), Hisun Pharmaceuticals (China), Shasun Chemicals and Drugs (India), and SIA International/Biocom (Russia).

In addition to supplying the necessary manufacturing know-how to produce the drugs, Lilly provides financial assistance for the purchase of equipment and conversion of manufacturing facilities. This includes working with the Chao Center at Purdue University to provide technical expertise and training in good manufacturing practices.

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