Novartis and Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV) announced today the African launch of Coartem(R) Dispersible. Coartem(R) Dispersible is the result of a unique public-private collaboration between Novartis and the nonprofit Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV). The announcement was made today in Dar es Salaam at the start of a week-long pan-African introduction of Coartem(R) Dispersible, which includes regional events in Mozambique and Senegal.

Each year there are nearly one million malaria-related deaths reported around the world(1). Nine out of ten malaria deaths occur in sub Saharan Africa, and the vast majority of malaria-related deaths occur in children. Across Africa, a child dies every 30 seconds from malaria(2).

Until now, many healthcare workers and parents have had to crush bitter-tasting antimalarial tablets for their children to swallow. Coartem Dispersible tablets enable parents to give the sweet-tasting malaria medicine to their children more easily and, in the process, ensure they receive full effective doses.

This new Coartem Dispersible tablet can help improve treatment and compliance saving many of the more than 700,000 children under five who die each year from malaria, said Dr. Daniel Vasella, chairman and CEO of Novartis. I am pleased that we can provide a clearly better formulation to help ensure children with malaria receive and can take an effective therapy.

A clinical study reported in The Lancet by Dr Salim Abdulla of the Ifakara Health Institute in Tanzania showed that Coartem Dispersible provides a high cure rate of 97.8%, which is comparable to that of Coartem (98.5%). Investigators also reported that it had a good safety profile(3).

The launch of Coartem Dispersible is an important milestone in the fight against malaria and marks the culmination of several years of successful collaboration with Novartis, said Dr. Chris Hentschel, President and CEO of Medicines for Malaria Venture. This could not have happened without the support of our funders who are all committed to malaria innovation and one day, eliminating this deadly disease.

The launch of Coartem Dispersible is a week-long series of regional events throughout Africa, focusing on malaria treatment, prevention and eradication. Coartem Dispersible events are taking place in Dar es Salaam on 16 February, Maputo on 19 February, and in Dakar on 20 February.

Coartem Dispersible builds on the enormous success of Coartem (artemether/lumefantrine 20 mg/120 mg), the leading ACT in Africa. Since 2001, in a unique collaboration with international organizations, Novartis has provided more than 215 million Coartem treatment courses for public sector use in malaria-endemic developing countries without profit. Thanks to production efficiency gains and increasing demand for Coartem, Novartis has driven down the cost in order to make it more accessible to people with malaria. After nearly halving the price since launch, the average cost of a full treatment course is 0.80 USD. For the youngest patients, a full treatment course costs just 0.37 USD through public sector sources.

As part of its ongoing commitment to patients and health workers, Novartis and MMV also provide malaria case management educational programs, which include hands-on training for local healthcare workers, customized training manuals, and user-friendly packaging to ensure that Coartem Dispersible is properly used and to improve patient compliance. Like Coartem, Coartem Dispersible will be provided to the public sector without profit to benefit those people most in need in the developing world.

In addition to Swissmedic, Coartem Dispersible is approved by 17 regulatory authorities in Africa. These countries include Benin, Burkina Faso, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Tanzania, Togo, and Zambia.