Sanofi Unveils Combination Drug for Malaria | Chemical & Engineering News
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Web Date: March 7, 2007

Sanofi Unveils Combination Drug for Malaria

Low-priced medicine should reduce deaths from killer disease in Africa
Department: Business

Sanofi-Aventis says the first low-cost combination drug to combat malaria will soon be available throughout sub-Saharan Africa, where the disease is estimated to kill 3,000 children every day.

The French drugmaker is working with a medical charity, the Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative (DNDi), to sell and distribute the new medicine, ASAQ, at a "no profit–no loss" price. The drug will cost less than 50 cents per treatment for children younger than five years old and less than $1.00 for older children and adults.

ASAQ combines two of the most effective drugs known to treat malaria, artesunate (AS) and amodiaquine (AQ), and has been endorsed by the World Health Organization. To maximize access, Sanofi has decided not to patent the medicine, which will allow generic drug companies to manufacture their own inexpensive versions.

"We aim to ensure that ASAQ is made available to patients as soon as possible, while at the same time demonstrating adherence to international quality standards," says Jean-François Dehecq, chairman of Sanofi.

The drug will be manufactured at Sanofi's facility in Morocco and will become available starting in mid-April in 15 African countries.

"This new fixed-dose combination has been adapted to patients' needs by being simple to use, more affordable, and a quality product," says Bernard Pécoul, executive director of DNDi.

"The fact that ASAQ is made so affordable right from the start and is not under patent removes a significant barrier to its availability and should serve as a model for future drug development for neglected diseases," Pecoul adds.

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