Merck, a science and technology company, has announced that, as part of its integrated Schistosomiasis Elimination Program, it is intensifying the Research & Development efforts for developing and providing access to transformative and sustainable health solutions to fight schistosomiasis also known as Bilharzia.
Merck, through its Global Health Institute, has established a portfolio of innovative and collaborative projects for new or adapted treatments, sensitive schistosomiasis diagnostics, technologies to control transmission, and research educational approaches to strengthen health systems in developing countries.
Through the Pediatric Praziquantel Consortium program, Merck is currently engaging in a clinical Phase III study to address an unmet need in paediatric schistosomiasis, conducted in Kenya and in Ivory Coast.
“As a leading company in the fight against schistosomiasis, Merck wants to impactfully contribute to the control and elimination of the disease through sustainable innovation development,” said Petra Wicklandt, Head of Corporate Affairs at Merck.
“The availability of a paediatric medication is essential to address the medical need of infected pre-school age children. Our investment today secures our future generation” said Dr Maurice Odiere, Principal Investigator for the Phase III trial and Principal Research Officer at the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI).
Together with renowned partners, Merck is also performing drug discovery activities for potential new treatments and is collaborating for new sensitive diagnostics to improve mapping and case detection of schistosomiasis. In addition, Merck is investing in innovative technologies for vector control and clean water to control transmission. The recently announced Eisai / Merck partnership addresses this topic.
Merck complements these R&D activities by donating up to 250 million praziquantel tablets annually of the standard of care treatment to the World Health Organization.
Through all these programs, Merck plays a leading role in defeating schistosomiasis as a serious public health burden.