Novartis has been committed to the fight against malaria for more than two decades. In 1999 we launched the first fixed-dose Artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT) and in 2009 the first dispersible pediatric ACT developed in partnership with Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV). Today we are working on the development of the next generation of antimalarials to address the ever-growing threat of parasite resistance.
In 2021, we crossed the 1 billion mark in antimalarial treatments delivered to patients worldwide since 1999, with more than 90% supplied without profit. More than 450 million treatments delivered are the pediatric formulation.
Read more about the one billion antimalarial treatments delivered: An extraordinary partnership journey
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Read more about our malaria activities in our Novartis in Society Integrated Report 2021.
Working toward a malaria-free world
Despite the tremendous progress made in combating malaria, one child still dies from the disease every minute. Novartis is committed to contributing to the WHO’s target of reducing malaria-related child mortality by at least 90% in 2030. As part of the PAMAfrica research consortium led by Medicines for Malaria Venture, we initiated the development of a new optimized dose strength of our ACT for infants weighing less than 5 kilograms – the clinical trial started in 2021 and is ongoing. This is one of the most vulnerable groups affected by malaria, for whom there is currently no approved treatment.
Working on the next generation of antimalarials
"Resistance to treatment presents the biggest threat to the incredible progress that has been made in the fight against malaria in the past 20 years. We cannot afford to wait; this is why we are committing to advance the research and development of next-generation treatments," said Vas Narasimhan, CEO of Novartis.
Drug discovery efforts at the Novartis Institute for Tropical Diseases (NITD) have delivered an industry-leading pipeline of drug candidates to address the emerging threat of resistance. Two antimalarials in development, KAF156 (ganaplacide) and KAE609 (cipargamin), offer new mechanisms of action against the disease and have the potential to offer simplified therapeutic regimens over current treatments.
Ganaplacide demonstrated activity against both vivax and falciparum malaria, including artemisinin-resistant parasites. It is being developed as a combination with a new formulation of lumefantrine. Positive Phase 2 clinical trial results in adults and children support the progression of the combination toward Phase 3. Novartis leads the development of ganaplacide with scientific and financial support from Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV) in collaboration with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
The development of cipargamin is led by Novartis with financial support from Wellcome. The clinical trials for ganaplacide are conducted as part of the WANECAM2 consortium, while trials for cipargamin and our infant formulation are part of the PAMAfrica research consortium led by MMV. Both trials are funded by the European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP).
In 2020, Novartis advanced another novel malaria therapy, INE963, a fast acting long-lasting antimalarial with an entirely new mechanism of action. INE963 is in early clinical trials. It is developed in collaboration with MMV and received the organization’s “Project of the Year” award in 2020.
Going beyond the pill
We aim to extend our contribution to areas beyond treatment. In Nigeria, we worked with Society for Family Health, one of the country’s largest NGOs, to strengthen access to diagnosis and treatment at patent and proprietary medicine vendor (PPMV) shops for children under age 5 with malaria in two states (Ebonyi and Kaduna). Since August 2020, nearly 37 000 children were treated at PPMV shops for malaria, pneumonia, and diarrhea. Further, 387 PPMVs were trained on integrated community case management (iCCM) to help expand access to first-line commodities for the diagnosis and treatment of these diseases. The project has now been handed over to the government for further implementation.
In Kenya, Novartis is partnering with Save the Children to accelerate the decline of child mortality and morbidity – increasing prevention, diagnosis and treatment for malaria, pneumonia and diarrhea, and reducing malnutrition by strengthening iCMM.
In India, under the umbrella of the Novartis Healthy Family program (Arogya Parivar), we ran a malaria screening campaign in Odisha state, a highly endemic area that bears almost a quarter of the country’s malaria burden. Since September 2020, more than 120 000 people have been screened for malaria and potential comorbidities. Patients diagnosed with malaria received a prescription and were advised to visit the nearest government health clinic for treatment and follow-up. We also provided education at Healthy Family health camps on the higher risk of malaria transmission during monsoon periods.
Europe-Africa partnership spearheads development of next-generation antimalarial drug.