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Addressing the unmet needs of children

Every 60 seconds, a child dies of malaria in Africa.1 Approximately 86% of all deaths from malaria occur in children under the age of five. Yet, until recently there was no child-friendly treatment for these vulnerable patients.

Voices

“My grandchild has been diagnosed with malaria. She has a headache and her temperature is high. She also has a stomach ache. I have been given medicine which I will give her at home. Malaria has been a big threat in the community for now close to five years. The most affected are children between the age of 2 and 5.”
Angeline Nyandiko, grandmother, Kenya

Ahead of the call from the World Health Organization and UNICEF for “child-sized” medicines, the Novartis Malaria Initiative started developing, in collaboration with Medicines for Malaria Venture,2 a sweet-tasting artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT) specifically for children.3,4

Launched in 2009, the medicine is the first ACT meeting WHO requirements for a pediatric antimalarial. Palatable and easily dispersed in water, it eases administration and enables accurate dosing for children without the need for cutting or crushing tablets.

The medicine contains the same amount of active ingredients as the regular tablet3 and has the same safety profile3 but is an attractive alternative for children who find it difficult to swallow crushed pills, and thus may not adhere to the treatment.

Since its launch, 200 million treatments have been delivered without profit to 40 countries, mainly in Africa, making it the first pediatric ACT to have been delivered in such large quantities.

Our pediatric treatment is the first:

  • Artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT) specifically tailored for infants and children
  • Pediatric ACT approved by Swissmedic (2008)3
  • Pediatric ACT pre-qualified by the WHO (2009)5 and recommended for use in the WHO treatment guidelines6
  • Sweet-tasting antimalarial to mask the bitter taste of artemisinin
  1. WHO Malaria Factsheet No. 94 April 2010. Available at: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs094/en/index.html
  2. Novartis Press Release. “Novartis and Medicines for Malaria Venture launch Coartem® Dispersible, the first ACT* developed for children suffering from malaria.” (2009)
  3. Abdulla S, Sagara I, Borrmann S, D'Alessandro U, Gonzalez R, Hamel M et al. Efficacy and safety of artemether-lumefantrine dispersible tablets compared with crushed commercial tablets in African infants and children with uncomplicated malaria: a randomised, single-blind, multicentre trial. Lancet 2008; 372(9652):1819-1827.
  4. Malaria Journal 2010, 9:298.
  5. WHO List of Prequalified Products. Available at: http://apps.who.int/prequal/query/ProductRegistry.aspx
  6. WHO Guidelines for the Treatment of Malaria: Second Edition (2010).