Novartis to Invest $100 Million in Malaria Treatment Research

The pharmaceutical giant will also launch a program committed to equitable pricing in malaria-endemic countries for new treatments along with expanding pediatric treatment availability and work to strengthen health care systems in 4 African nations.

Novartis has announced a new 5-year commitment to fighting malaria which includes investing $100 million into the research and development of next-generation treatment and technology. The announcement was made in conjunction with the 7th Multilateral Initiative on Malaria Conference and the Malaria Summit of the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting. Additionally, Novartis announced the African research progress in the 2030 malaria elimination campaign, together with Elimination 8 and the KEMRI-Wellcome Trust program.

The pharmaceutical giant will also launch a program committed to equitable pricing in malaria-endemic countries for new treatments along with expanding pediatric treatment availability and work to strengthen health care systems in 4 African nations. These efforts will be conducted as a commitment to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) target to reduce malaria-related child mortality by 90% by 2030.

"Resistance to treatment presents the biggest threat to the incredible progress that has been made in the fight against malaria in the past 20 years. We cannot afford to wait; this is why we are committing to advance the research and development of next-generation treatments," said Vas Narasimhan, CEO of Novartis in an official statement. "At the same time, we need to work to ensure that our innovation reaches those most in need, even those in the most remote locations."

As part of the investment, Novartis is seeking to complete clinical trials for novel antimalarial drug candidates KAF156 and KAE609. Both drug candidates are unique treatments designed to treat malaria. Novartis will use other portions of the investment to determine where malaria burden is greatest in order to designate future clinical trial sites where medicines will be designed for populations that are in the greatest need.

Novartis has expressed commitment to working in Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo and other sub-Saharan African nations to expand address to pediatric artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT), which Novartis first developed in 2009, while also creating more availability to treatments to reduce child mortality from treatable conditions including malaria. Despite some progress, 1 child dies from malaria every 2 minutes.

Global malaria deaths declined by 60% between 2000 and 2015; however, experts are concerned that mosquitoes are growing resistant, which could lead to resistance to ACTs in 20 years. Research and development for malaria have largely gone underfunded, but in order to be consistent in reducing the mortality of the disease, a greater focus in these areas is needed.