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Studies show success of Mectizan partnerships

clinical trials which demonstrated that Mectizan is safe for humans and effectively kills the juvenile form of Onchocerca volvulus. These parasites cause blinding eye lesions and the debilitating skin conditions associated with river blindness. In 1987, Merck formed the Mectizan Donation Program to oversee the donation of the drug to organizations and agencies who would deliver the medication directly to the people in need of treatment. The program continued to grow throughout the 1990s through a partnership involving the World Bank, World Health Organization, Ministries of Health, local communities and non-governmental organizations.

According to the study co-authored by David Peters, MD, MPH, DrPH, assistant professor of International Health at the School of Public Health, the 25 partners of the Mectizan Donation Program believe that the perceived benefits of the partnership far outweigh the challenges, and that the direct costs to the organizations have been minimal. The partnership also is rated highly on many aspects of governance and management, with relatively few problems identified.

"One of the real keys to the success the Mectizan Donation Program is the public-private partnerships on the international, national and local levels. These partnerships created a great deal of interest and involvement at the community level so that the people who needed the medication were receiving it," said Dr. Burnham.

In his study, Dr. Burnham noted that the number of annual Mectizan treatments approved through community-based, mass treatment grew from 255,000 in 1988 to nearly 50 million by 2002. The program continues to grow, with a projected 90 million people in need receiving treatment by 2010.


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Contact: Tim Parsons
paffairs@jhsph.edu
410-955-6878
Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health
10-May-2004


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