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Novartis, NGO Partner on Generic Antibiotics

Pills and capsules

(stevepb, Pixabay)

27 September 2018. Drug maker Novartis and a not-for-profit organization delivering antibiotics to low- and middle-income countries are collaborating on production of generic antibiotics for young children. Financial details of the partnership between Global Antibiotic Research & Development Partnership or GARDP in Geneva, Switzerland and Novartis AG were not disclosed.

Novartis and GARDP plan to develop generic antibiotics for children to help reduce antibiotic resistance aggravating the growing rate of infectious diseases including pneumonia and sepsis. These diseases, says GARDP, accounted for 3 million deaths in 2013, with nearly two-thirds of those deaths occurring in Sub-Saharan Africa. The organization cites data from an article in The Lancet from 2016 indicating some 214,000 deaths of newborns each year are attributed to drug-resistant infections.

The project will enlist Novartis’s Sandoz division that produces generics to adapt current drugs into heat-stable formulations for newborn infants and children under 5 years of age for low-resource regions. Novartis’s Social Business division will advise on issues including supply chain, capacity building, and measurement and evaluation to improve availability of medicines in these countries. In addition, Novartis and GARDP will develop measures on the appropriate use of antibiotics and distribution channels to make sure low-resource regions receive the needed antibiotics.

“Children are not small adults and require treatments that are adapted in terms of regimen, dose and formulation,” says Manica Balasegaram, Director of GARDP in an organization statement. “However, challenges around conducting clinical trials in children have led to lack of evidence-based treatments available for them. And lack of evidence hinders the development of treatment guidelines for their care. This partnership not only has the potential to reduce the number of preventable deaths in children, but also to help tackle AMR through addressing the overuse and misuse of antibiotics.”

Harald Nusser, head of Novartis Social Business, adds that “medicines by themselves are not sufficient. They also need to be affordable and accessible for patients. A very important part of our role will therefore be to work with partners on the ground to ensure these medicines reach patients, and in particular those living in remote and underserved areas.”

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