International status granted to three not-for-profit organizations in Switzerland

Switzerland recognizes important work in the area of diseases affecting the poorest

Geneva, Switzerland – 9 December 2010 – The Geneva-based organizations Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi), Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND), and Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV) have been recognized as “other International Organizations” by the Swiss Government with effect from the first of January 2011. This represents an important recognition of their goals to drive the development and implementation of effective, low-cost and innovative drugs and diagnostic tests to fight diseases that affect millions of people in the world’s poorer regions.

Under the agreement signed today on behalf of the Federal Council of Switzerland by Ambassador Valentin Zellweger, Director of the Directorate of Public International Law (DDIP), DNDi, FIND and MMV will be granted special status in Switzerland.

Product development partnerships
In wealthy countries, scientific advances over the past 30 years have produced substantial gains in life expectancy and unparalleled medical care. However, in poorer communities across the developing world more than 35,000 people die every day from infectious diseases such as AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and other neglected diseases, many of which are preventable, treatable, and curable. Innovative, effective and affordable health tools are urgently needed for those suffering from these diseases.

Not-for-profit product development partnerships (PDPs) such as DNDi, FIND, and MMV were established in the last decade to develop and implement new diagnostic tools and improved medicines to fight malaria, tuberculosis, and other neglected diseases such as human African trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness), visceral leishmaniasis (kala-azar), and Chagas disease.

This novel model for research and development, with networks of partnerships worldwide, has proved to be efficient, cost-effective and successful. It uses expertise, technology and facilities from both the public and private sectors in the hunt for innovative health tools for poverty-related diseases. In just 10 years, DNDi, FIND, and MMV have already developed and licensed several products to combat malaria, sleeping sickness, visceral leishmaniasis and tuberculosis in low- and middle-income disease-endemic countries. Large-scale implementation of some of these new tools is on-going and has had a substantial impact on access to prevention, diagnosis and treatment by vulnerable populations.

The recognition by the Swiss Host State will provide these three PDPs added impetus and resources to achieve their respective missions. “This status given by the Swiss Government is a great honor and will provide a boost to our innovative R&D models for neglected diseases,” said Bernard Pécoul, Executive Director of DNDi.

Dennis Schmatz, President and CEO of MMV, added, “This generous gesture from the Swiss Government will have a significant impact on MMV’s mission to develop new life-saving medicines for those most affected by malaria in the poorest regions of the world.”

“FIND is greatly honored to have been granted special status by the Swiss Government. This will strengthen our ability to combat infectious diseases through the development and implementation of accurate, easy-to-use and affordable diagnostic tests that are appropriate for patient care in low-resource settings,” affirmed Giorgio Roscigno, CEO of FIND.

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Notes for editors:

The Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi) is a not-for-profit product development partnership working to research and develop new and improved treatments for neglected disease, in particular, human African trypanosomiasis, leishmaniasis, Chagas disease, and malaria. With the objective to address unmet patient needs for these diseases, DNDi was established in 2003 by the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation from Brazil, the Indian Council for Medical Research, the Kenya Medical Research Institute, the Ministry of Health of Malaysia, the Pasteur Institute, and Médecins sans Frontières (MSF). WHO/TDR acts as a permanent observer. Working in partnership with industry and academia, DNDi has the largest ever R&D portfolio for kinetoplastid diseases. Since 2007, DNDi has delivered three products, fixed-dose antimalarials “ASAQ” and “ASMQ”, and combination treatment for the advanced stage of sleeping sickness NECT (nifurtimox-eflornithine combination therapy). For more information:

Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV)
Medicines for Malaria Venture, a not-for-profit public-private partnership, was established as a foundation in Switzerland in1999. It is dedicated to the reduction of the malaria burden in disease-endemic countries with the discovery, development and delivery of new, effective and affordable antimalarial drugs. MMV’s vision is a world in which these innovative medicines will cure and protect the vulnerable and under-served populations at risk of malaria, and help to ultimately eradicate this terrible disease.

MMV is the only product development partnership dedicated solely to the discovery, development and delivery of new medicines for malaria, a mosquito-borne disease that kills over 850,000 people each year. Over 85% of those who die are children under the age of five. MMV works in collaboration with over 140 partners worldwide to develop new medicines for this vulnerable population and has already seen several successes. In January 2009, it launched a high-quality child-friendly formulation, Coartem Dispersible, with partner Novartis. As of October 2010, 42 million treatments have already been distributed in 32 countries. More recently, an artesunate injection for severe malaria produced to international standards with the help of MMV has been approved by the WHO prequalification programme, making it eligible for procurement by malaria-endemic countries using donor funds. To continue down its path of success, MMV looks to support from its donor group, of whom the government of Switzerland is a founding member.

The mission of FIND is to drive the development and implementation of accurate, easy-to-use and affordable diagnostic tests that are appropriate for patient care in low-resource settings. From concept testing through product roll-out, FIND works with multiple and diverse groups, from academia, industry, donors, partners in the field, Ministries of Health, and the World Health Organization. With four new diagnostic tools for TB already approved by WHO and in use in disease-endemic countries, FIND’s work also includes malaria and sleeping sickness and it is actively exploring tools to detect and manage other diseases. FIND’s headquarters are in Geneva and it has offices in Kampala, Uganda, and New Delhi, India.

For more information, please contact:
Ralf de Coulon, DNDi
Tel: +41 22 906 92 30

Jaya Banerji, MMV
Mob: +41 79 707 7181