A tablet against a tropical worm

A tablet against a tropical worm

We are partnering with the World Health Organization (WHO) to combat the worm disease schistosomiasis...more

We are partnering with the World Health Organization (WHO) to combat the worm disease schistosomiasis in Africa. In addition to this, we are engaged in research and education projects that are helping to contain this insidious tropical illness.

A tablet against a tropical worm

A tablet against a tropical worm

We are partnering with the World Health Organization (WHO) to combat the worm disease schistosomiasis...more

We are partnering with the World Health Organization (WHO) to combat the worm disease schistosomiasis in Africa. In addition to this, we are engaged in research and education projects that are helping to contain this insidious tropical illness.

A tablet against a tropical worm

A tablet against a tropical worm

We are partnering with the World Health Organization (WHO) to combat the worm disease schistosomiasis...more

We are partnering with the World Health Organization (WHO) to combat the worm disease schistosomiasis in Africa. In addition to this, we are engaged in research and education projects that are helping to contain this insidious tropical illness.

A tablet against a tropical worm

A tablet against a tropical worm

We are partnering with the World Health Organization (WHO) to combat the worm disease schistosomiasis...more

We are partnering with the World Health Organization (WHO) to combat the worm disease schistosomiasis in Africa. In addition to this, we are engaged in research and education projects that are helping to contain this insidious tropical illness.

A tablet against a tropical worm

A tablet against a tropical worm

We are partnering with the World Health Organization (WHO) to combat the worm disease schistosomiasis...more

We are partnering with the World Health Organization (WHO) to combat the worm disease schistosomiasis in Africa. In addition to this, we are engaged in research and education projects that are helping to contain this insidious tropical illness.

A tablet against a tropical worm

A tablet against a tropical worm

We are partnering with the World Health Organization (WHO) to combat the worm disease schistosomiasis...more

We are partnering with the World Health Organization (WHO) to combat the worm disease schistosomiasis in Africa. In addition to this, we are engaged in research and education projects that are helping to contain this insidious tropical illness.

A tablet against a tropical worm

A tablet against a tropical worm

We are partnering with the World Health Organization (WHO) to combat the worm disease schistosomiasis...more

We are partnering with the World Health Organization (WHO) to combat the worm disease schistosomiasis in Africa. In addition to this, we are engaged in research and education projects that are helping to contain this insidious tropical illness.

A tablet against a tropical worm

A tablet against a tropical worm

We are partnering with the World Health Organization (WHO) to combat the worm disease schistosomiasis...more

We are partnering with the World Health Organization (WHO) to combat the worm disease schistosomiasis in Africa. In addition to this, we are engaged in research and education projects that are helping to contain this insidious tropical illness.

A tablet against a tropical worm

A tablet against a tropical worm

We are partnering with the World Health Organization (WHO) to combat the worm disease schistosomiasis...more

We are partnering with the World Health Organization (WHO) to combat the worm disease schistosomiasis in Africa. In addition to this, we are engaged in research and education projects that are helping to contain this insidious tropical illness.

Next NextPrevious article

Fighting schistosomiasis

Over 200 million people in Africa suffer from the widespread tropical worm disease schistosomiasis. Every year, more than 200,000 die as a result of this insidious illness, which is caused by flatworms and spread through stagnant water. People become infected by the worm larvae while doing activities such as swimming, fishing, playing, or washing their clothes. The larvae penetrate human skin, enter the blood vessels and attack internal organs such as the liver, colon, spleen, or bladder. The infection rate is especially high among children, and the symptoms that result are particularly serious; schistosomiasis stunts growth, causes learning disabilities, and leads to anemia.
Since 2007, Merck has been supporting the World Health Organization (WHO) in the fight against schistosomiasis in Africa. Since the start of the Merck Praziquantel Donation Program, Merck has donated over 160 million tablets. To date, more than 38 million patients in total have thus been treated, consisting primarily of school children. In 2013, around 50 million tablets were provided to the African countries of Angola, Ethiopia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Cameroon, the Republic of the Congo, Madagascar, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal, Zimbabwe, Sudan, and Tanzania.
In addition to this, we are engaged in research and education projects that are helping to contain this insidious tropical illness. Our efforts to fight schistosomiasis are in line with the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, and are also part of the initiative to fight neglected tropical diseases that was launched by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in early 2012.

In 2007, Merck made a commitment to donate to WHO 200 million tablets of Cesol® 600, which contain the active ingredient praziquantel. By 2017, this was intended to have treated around 27 million children for schistosomiasis in the most severely affected countries in Africa. In 2012, we announced that we will continue our efforts to fight schistosomiasis until the disease has been eliminated in Africa. To this end, Merck is increasing the number of praziquantel tablets donated in the medium term, raising the total to up to 250 million tablets annually, expected to treat 100 million children suffering from schistosomiasis.

Praziquantel is well tolerated and the most effective treatment to date for schistosomiasis, which is why WHO has included it on its list of essential medicines. Merck developed praziquantel in the 1970s as part of a research collaboration, and the tablets are produced at our plant in Mexico. Merck also covers the transport and logistics costs involved in getting the tablets to Africa, while WHO manages, monitors, and documents their distribution at the local level.

WHO supplies the country-specific data on morbidity rates and treatment frequency in the countries in which the Merck Praziquantel Donation Program has been rolled out. The data for each country can be found in the WHO PCT databank.

A steering committee consisting of representatives from both WHO and Merck convenes at least twice a year in order to review the progress of the Merck Praziquantel Donation Program and decide on its future course.


Merck is supporting an awareness program at schools in Africa; using an easy-to-understand brochure as well as posters, the program explains the causes of schistosomiasis and teaches children ways to prevent the disease. In 2011, a pilot project was launched at schools in Senegal and Malawi; through 1,100 brochures and 130 posters, the project reached around 1,100 children. In 2013, the program was launched in Senegal with 750,000 brochures and in Malawi with 250,000 brochures.

In 2014, Merck will also be supporting a radio project on health issues that is being conducted in Malawi by the Uraha Foundation Germany.

Within the scope of a public-private partnership (PPP), Merck is researching a formulation of praziquantel for young children. Praziquantel tablets in their current form are suitable for adults and children over the age of six; for children younger than six, it is currently not possible to properly treat the disease. The members of this international PPP, which was founded in July 2012, include Merck, TI Pharma, Astellas Pharma Inc., and the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute (“Swiss TPH”) in Basel, Fiocruz and Simcyp. 

On top of this, Merck researchers are also working on a film coating to make praziquantel tablets easier to swallow as well as more resistant to long transport times.

 
top
Goals:  Praziquantel
Strategic goal Action By? Status Status
Eliminate the worm disease schistosomiasis in Africa Provide tablets containing praziquantel free of charge to treat school children in Africa Ongoing

More than 150 million tablets were donated from the beginning of the project to the end of 2013. More than 36 million children were treated in total until the end of 2012. In 2012, over 15 million children were treated.

2012: 27 million tablets provided to eight countries in Africa

2013: 50 million tablets provided to twelve countries in Africa

in progress
Run an awareness program to explain the causes of schistosomiasis and potential preventive measures. End of 2013 In 2013, 750,000 brochures were delivered to Senegal and the order for printing 250,000 brochures in Malawi was placed. achieved
Incrementally increase the number of tablets donated annually by a factor of ten, up to 250 million End of 2016 Currently searching for additional API suppliers. in progress
Research a new formulation of praziquantel for children under 6 years old

In July 2012, a public-private partnership (PPP) was founded. 

Milestone: Preclinical development is to be completed by 2014; clinical development is scheduled to start in 2014.

in progress
Optimize the praziquantel formulation End of 2014 Development of a film coating to make the tablets easier for patients to swallow and to make them even more resistant to long transport times. in progress
  
Read more on M - The Explorer Magazine

Pioneering work for allergy patients

Whether allergies are due to heredity, environmental pollution or excessive hygiene, they are troublesome illnesses of the immune system whose effects should not be underestimated.

Read more on M - The Explorer Magazine
Read more on M - The Explorer Magazine

Partnerships for better early diagnosis

Few people know the symptoms of a head and neck tumor. Merck is therefore supporting head and neck tumor awareness week again this year.

Read more on M - The Explorer Magazine
Read more on M - The Explorer Magazine

Honeybees sweeten “Go Green” initiative

In the town of Aubonne on the north side of Lake Geneva in Switzerland, Merck Serono employees produce not only cutting-edge biotechnological medicines, but their own honey too.

Read more on M - The Explorer Magazine