Gilead Sciences, Inc. announced it has entered into a partnership with the World Health Organization (WHO) to provide $20 million in funding and drug donations over five years to expand access to diagnostic services and treatment for visceral leishmaniasis (VL). As part of this collaboration, Gilead will donate 380,000 vials of AmBisome® (amphotericin B liposome for injection) to meet the needs of WHO to treat VL in key endemic countries, including Bangladesh, Ethiopia, India, Nepal, South Sudan and Sudan.
VL, also known as kala-azar, is the world’s second-deadliest parasitic infectious disease and affects up to 300,000 people annually in resource-limited countries.
“This new collaboration comes at the right time as we gear up to support endemic countries in the Eastern Africa sub-region and South-East Asia to eliminate visceral leishmaniasis as a public health problem by or before 2020,” said Dr. Ren Minghui, WHO Assistant Director-General for HIV/AIDS, Malaria and Neglected Tropical Diseases. “During the past five years, AmBisome, donated by Gilead, allowed many countries in the Region highly endemic for VL to implement WHO’s recommended first line treatment, benefitting thousands of people.”
Gilead’s support of WHO’s leishmaniasis control program began in 1992. In December 2011, Gilead expanded its partnership by donating approximately 445,000 vials of AmBisome to treat more than 50,000 people over five years and to expand the number of VL treatment centers from fewer than 15 in 2011 to more than 160 in 2015.
“We’re proud to continue our long-standing partnership with the World Health Organization as it continues its efforts to combat this illness worldwide,” said Gregg Alton, Executive Vice President Commercial and Access Operations ALA, Corporate and Medical Affairs. “We want to ensure every patient around the world has access to medicines that can save them from life-threatening diseases. This renewed partnership is one step further towards that goal.”
Gilead’s funding will enable WHO to expand and reinforce leishmaniasis surveillance and control efforts in highly endemic areas, including creating a sustainable infrastructure to improve diagnosis and treatment of VL. Gilead’s medicine donation will be distributed by WHO as determined by a group of experts appointed by WHO.
Gilead is one of 20 original endorsers of the ‘London Declaration’ on Neglected Tropical Diseases – a collaborative disease elimination and eradication program launched in January 2012. The declaration was inspired by the WHO’s 2020 roadmap to eradicate neglected tropical diseases.