Aug 5, 2009 | 1
The Seattle Sounders FC, a Major League Soccer expansion team, will be the obvious underdogs when they take the field tonight against world champion FC Barcelona. But this sold-out battle in Seattle is about far more than soccer—or as the visiting team would call it, football. Both teams share the much larger goal of kicking malaria out of Africa.
"I think soccer is the best way to sensitize people about malaria," Sanna Nyassi, a midfielder for the Sounders, told The Seattle Times. "It's the most popular game in the world. It’s going to make a very big difference."
Nyassi suffered through more than one bout of malaria while growing up in his home country of Gambia. He now campaigns to keep others protected from the parasite that kills about 1 million people, mostly children, every year.
Jul 23, 2009 | 4
Getting prescription medication into developing countries is hard enough. But what if the drugs that actually make it there don’t work? Or worse, they cause further harm?
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimated three years ago that nearly one in four pharmaceutical drugs sold in the developing world is counterfeit, the New York Times reported this week. And recent discoveries suggest the war on fake drugs shows no sign of abating, as the pharmaceutical forgers wield increasingly sophisticated weaponry.
“The counterfeit drug business has become increasingly attractive for criminal syndicates,” according to the Times. “The profit potential is vast, yet punishment for those caught is typically much less severe than for illegal drugs like cocaine, law enforcement officials say.”
Apr 17, 2009 | 2
A subsidy program intended to drive down the cost of lifesaving malaria drugs called artemisinin-based combination therapies—now considered the most effective treatment against the parasitic disease—was unveiled today in Norway.
The program, a partnership between nonprofits, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and 30 governments, could lower the cost of the treatment, whose main ingredient is a Chinese herb, to between 20 and 50 cents.
Right now, the therapy costs $6 to $10 at the roadside shops where remote villagers purchase the meds, according to the new project, the Affordable Medicines Facility for Malaria (AMFm). The first 11 countries where the discounted meds will be available are Benin, Cambodia, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Tanzania and Uganda.
Apr 9, 2009 | 2
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has signed off on Coartem, an anti-malaria drug whose active ingredient is a Chinese herb.
The drug, made by Swiss-based Novartis, is a combination of artemether (a derivative of the herb artemisinin) and lumefantrine (a broad-spectrum antibiotic). The three-day medication, already available in 80 other countries, cures more than 96 percent of malaria cases, including those in areas where the parasite has become resistant to chloroquine, which for decades was a widely used preventive and treatment.
“Because of concerns about drug resistance with currently available drug therapy, it will benefit patients to have another treatment option for malaria available,” Edward Cox, director of the Office of Antimicrobial Products in the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said in a statement released after yesterday's decision.
Dec 8, 2008
An experimental malaria vaccine for babies reduced the chances of developing the mosquito-borne illness by more than half, scientists are reporting today. The results, from two trials conducted in Kenya and Tanzania, are the most promising yet in the quest to develop effective immunization against the life-threatening parasite.
The findings on GlaxoSmithKline's RTS,S/AS01 showed a 53 percent lower risk of infection over eight months and were presented today at the annual American Society for Tropical Medicine and Hygiene meeting in New Orleans. They build on results published last year that found that GSK's RTS,S/AS02 vaccine (the same shot formulated with a different adjuvant, or immune-enhancing additive) slashed the risk of a first-time malaria infection by 66 percent in infants who received the full three-dose course. A safety study on that vaccine published in today's online edition of the New England Journal of Medicine showed about the same efficacy — a 65 percent reduction in first-time infections for babies 12 months and younger.
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