The Medicines for Malaria Venture
A public/private partnership for the discovery of new antimalarial drugs
MMV is a key part of the Global Movement to Roll Back Malaria to bring sustainable improvements to malaria control and prevention over the coming decade
Malaria kills over 1 million people world-wide each year, that means 2 deaths every minute. Young children under 5 and pregnant women are its main victims. Every year, there are over 300 million new cases of clinical malaria.
Medicines are losing the battle
With the absence of a vaccine in the foreseeable future, drugs are, and will continue to be, a major tool for malaria control. However, current medicines are losing the battle against malaria. Drugs for treating infection and controlling the symptoms of malaria are losing their efficacy as the malaria parasite is slowly but surely building up resistance to them. New drugs, which are affordable to communities in areas of high malaria transmission, are urgently needed if the impact of malaria is to be contained.
Malaria and poverty go together
Malaria is a disease of the poor. Its greatest burden falls on those who can least afford to pay for prevention or treatment. The average cost of discovering and getting a new drug to the market is estimated to be at least $500 million. With little prospect of an adequate commercial return in those parts of the world where malaria prevails, the traditional methods of obtaining drugs through the pharmaceutical industry is not working. The problem needs to be addressed in a different way.
MMV offers a new approach
MMV offers a new approach to the discovery and development of medicines for malaria. It is a partnership which brings together the pharmaceutical industry with its knowledge and expertise in drug discovery and development and the public sector with its depth of expertise in basic biology and field studies.
The mission which MMV has set for itself is to discover, develop and commercialise antimalarial drugs at prices that are affordable to the populations worst hit by the disease at a rate of one new product every 5 years.
MMV has two goals on the way to fulfilling its mission. First, to raise its capital and second to apply these funds to a selected number of promising drug discovery projects. Each project will be based on cutting-edge science and will be built around an individual academic-industrial partnership.
The day-to-day management of MMV is operationally independent from its donors. It operates more like a small virtual R&D company than a public sector scientific funding agency. It will be headed by a Chief Executive Officer who will be answerable to the MMV Board, consisting of people with appropriate expertise from both the public and private sectors.
From the discovery stage, compounds selected for development are managed by teams operating through a specialised virtual development unit that is identified and supported by MMV. The development and registration process is identical to that of industry. A major aspect of MMV's work is to identify and licence companies to produce and commercialise successful products on criteria which ensure appropriate distribution and an affordable price.
Funds are expected to come mainly from governmental funding agencies, foundations and philanthropic donations. Pharmaceutical industry contributions will be mainly in the form of freely donated drug discovery expertise and related technology. MMV has already undergone a preparational phase and three discovery projects have been selected for MMV support. The initial goal for MMV is to raise $15 million per annum by the end of 2000. This will enable it to establish its management team and to set a further group of discovery projects on their way. Over the following three years the target is $30 million per annum, divided about equally between the discovery and the development phases. MMV expects to be able to bring new antimalarials on to the market for a cash outlay of some $150 million, complemented by 'in-kind' support of a substantial nature from the pharmaceutical industry. If funding targets are reached, it is expected that the first product to be generated by MMV will be commercially available before 2010.
MMV is an entrepreneurial, albeit not-for-profit, business venture. It will negotiate appropriate licensing agreements with its partners that recognise intellectual property rights. These agreements will have as their major goal the commercialisation of products for low income populations at affordable prices. A royalty income may accrue to MMV on products that earn significant returns for MMV's commercial partners. These returns will be fed back into MMV's fund to offset the need for future donations.
More about MMV
The World Health Organisation - WHO - recognises that civil conflict, large-scale human migrations, climatic and environmental change, inadequate and deteriorating health systems, growing insecticide and drug resistance have all combined to bring about the resurgence of malaria. Tackling malaria will be a major battle in the war against poverty. It is a social and an economic development issue, not just a health concern. WHO is a major player in the Global Partnership to Roll Back Malaria. A major challenge for the partnership is to optimise the use of available tools to deal with the disease, in co-ordination with others, through strengthened health systems and to make a big step forward in research in the areas of vaccines and drugs. MMV, as an integral part of RBM, provides a mechanism for a sustainable, continuous supply of new antimalarial drugs into the future.
MMV is legally constituted as a foundation under Swiss law. Its inaugural partners are: The World Health Organisation - WHO, The International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Associations - IFPMA, The World Bank, The Rockefeller Foundation, The Global Forum for Health Research, The Government of the Netherlands, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation and the UK Department for International Development.
For further details contact:
Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV)
c/o World Health Organisation
1211 Geneva 27
e-mail: email@example.com; website:http://www.malariamedicines.org