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CAPE TOWN, South Africa -- During the annual meeting of the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (IUATLD), the Lilly MDR-TB Partnership brought together experts to highlight the battle against multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) in South Africa as a model for the work being done by The Partnership around the world. South Africa is one of the highest-burden MDR-TB countries.
The Lilly MDR-TB Partnership -- a public-private initiative of 14 organizations focused on stopping the spread of MDR-TB and ultimately conquering the disease -- is transferring manufacturing know-how to technology partners around the world. The technology transfer partner in South Africa, Aspen Pharmacare, sold its first batch of cycloserine to Botswana in 2006 and is now producing cycloserine in a brand new facility in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, that has a capacity in excess of 4 billion tablets and capsules per year. Cycloserine is a Lilly antibiotic that is instrumental in the treatment of second-line tuberculosis, or MDR-TB.
Aspen has also now begun construction of a facility at the Port Elizabeth site to produce vials of capreomycin, another critical medicine in the fight against second-line tuberculosis, and is expected to produce this medicine at the facility in early 2009. Capreomycin was developed by Eli Lilly and Company several years ago.
"The ability to manufacture cycloserine locally is essential to treating the plight of multidrug resistance in South Africa," said Stavros Nicolaou, executive director of Aspen Pharmacare. "This initiative allows us to directly address this highly contagious disease, which has a tremendous impact on the health of our country and the entire African continent."
Aspen Pharmacare works closely with the World Health Organization (WHO) to supply medicine to countries approved by the WHO Green Light Committee (GLC). The GLC helps countries gain access to high-quality, second-line anti-TB medicines so they can provide treatment for people with MDR-TB in line with WHO guidelines.
In addition to the transfer of technology, The Lilly MDR-TB Partnership enhances access to medicines, trains doctors and nurses, raises awareness, promotes prevention, supports communities, advocates on behalf of patients and conducts early-stage drug discovery.
"The Lilly Partnership initiatives all have one thing in common -- improved care for some of the world's most vulnerable people," said Dr. Patrizia Carlevaro, head of the International Aid Unit for Eli Lilly and Company. "Through initiatives that create immediate, yet sustainable solutions, our shared goal is to contain and someday conquer this deadly disease."
The Lilly MDR-TB Partnership business model, including its unique transfer of technology, is making such an impact that it is now being taught as part of public policy course work at INSEAD in Paris, France, and soon will be taught at Harvard and Columbia Universities in the U.S.
Source: Eli Lilly and Company