"Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany is committed to advancing research and development toward the elimination of neglected and emerging illnesses, such as schistosomiasis, one of the most common and devastating parasitic diseases in tropical countries, with more than 280,000 people dying each year as a result," said Batra. "We, like the World Health Organization, aim to tackle these global challenges and offer a better quality of life."
The panel discussed the role of decentralized manufacturing as a strategy to address the problem of accessing medicines and biologics and tackling NTDs. Manufacturing of health technologies has been an objective by officials in developing countries around the world who are working with private sector partners to establish production, according to the WHO.
"We understand from both our customers and governments that there is a strong desire to bring biomanufacturing closer to patients, wherever they live, to alleviate supply chain risk, respond to endemic diseases and manufacture at an acceptable or competitive cost," Batra said. "Todays single-use and bioprocessing solutions help make that aspiration possible. We stand ready to support governments and manufacturers in advancing their decentralized biomanufacturing infrastructure to enhance patient access to life-saving biologics and biosimilars."
Since 2007, Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, through its Healthcare business sector, has been supporting the WHO in the fight against schistosomiasis in Africa. The most effective treatment for this disease to date is Cesol® 600, a tablet that contains the well-tolerated active ingredient known as praziquantel. The company produces the tablets at its plant in Mexico and covers the transport and logistical costs involved in getting the tablets to Africa, while WHO manages, monitors and documents distribution at the local level.
The company has two separate collaborations with Baylor College of Medicine, one through its Life Science business and the other through its Healthcare business. In 2017, the Life Science business formed a strategic alliance with Baylor to advance vaccine research and development for neglected and emerging infections. Also in 2017, the Healthcare business of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany began a collaboration with the Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine (James Cook University, Queensland) and Baylor to research new biomarkers for the development of vaccines and diagnostics for schistosomiasis.