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Lilly Announces Additional $50 Million Investment in Global Tuberculosis Partnership

2007-03-22 10:07 842

Funding enables partnership to continue critical battle against MDR-TB; Reinvestment brings Lilly's total commitment to $120 million for long-term, sustainable program

NEW YORK, March 22 /Xinhua-PRNewswire/ -- Eli Lilly and Company (NYSE: LLY) today announced plans to invest an additional $50 million in an innovative, global partnership to fight Multi-Drug Resistant Tuberculosis (MDR-TB). The announcement is being made in conjunction with World TB Day activities.

(Logo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20031219/LLYLOGO )

This new commitment furthers Lilly's support of a pioneering initiative started in 2003, and brings the total Lilly investment to $120 million. The funding supports a multi-pronged strategy to increase the supply and availability of effective drugs for treating the complex and life-threatening disease; training for front-line health care personnel; and efforts to focus global resources on prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of MDR-TB.

Highly contagious, difficult to treat, and a growing threat to global public health, MDR-TB strikes about 450,000 people each year, with the highest rates of prevalence in China, India, South Africa and the countries of the former Soviet Union. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that the average MDR-TB patient infects up to 20 other people in his or her lifetime and cases of MDR-TB have been found in virtually every country surveyed by WHO. When drugs used to treat MDR-TB are misused or mismanaged, the even more virulent Extreme Drug Resistant TB (XDR-TB) can develop.

The Lilly MDR-TB Partnership is an international alliance of 14 public and private organizations, including businesses, humanitarian organizations, academic institutions, and professional health care associations.

"Eli Lilly and Company understands its role in the global battle against MDR-TB and recognizes its responsibility to those afflicted by this deadly disease," said Sidney Taurel, Lilly's chairman and chief executive officer. "These additional funds will extend our commitment to transferring the technologies and improving the support systems needed to stop the spread of MDR-TB."

A cornerstone of the Lilly MDR-TB Partnership is its success in influencing key MDR-TB policies around the world including introducing new treatment protocols and convincing the global health care community that treating MDR-TB is just as important as treating primary TB. More than 40 countries now have health policies addressing MDR-TB.

Dr. Paul Farmer, physician, medical anthropologist and founding director of Partners in Health, was one of the first to approach Lilly about investing in this effort. He described the Lilly MDR-TB Partnership as unique among public/private efforts.

"I'm not sure people understand the scope of the Lilly MDR-TB Partnership, which has reached tens of thousands directly but may also serve as an example of how we can draw on the resources of the pharmaceutical industry to address some of the most important public health problems of our times. The partnership has helped establish better MDR-TB treatment guidelines, improved care for those stricken with MDR-TB in Russia, sub-Saharan Africa, China and India and made critical antibiotics more available to save lives everywhere," Farmer said. "Lilly's continuing support is invaluable."

In addition to Partners in Health, those in Lilly's MDR-TB Partnership include the International Council of Nurses, International Federation of the Red Cross & Red Crescent Societies, International Hospital Federation, Purdue University, TB Alert, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), World Economic Forum, World Health Organization/Stop TB Partnership, and World Medical Association. Each of the partner organizations are contributing to the success in changing the MDR-TB treatment paradigm.

Over the last few years, with support from Lilly, thousands of health care workers have been trained in treating MDR-TB and thousands of community workers have helped patients and their families overcome MDR-TB and its stigma. The additional funding will enable more training of healthcare workers, support workplace education aimed at earlier identification of TB and HIV and increase the number of countries with strengthened MDR-TB control.

"The emergence of the deadly XDR-TB strain underscores the urgency of stopping MDR-TB. It is a global priority," said Dr Mario Raviglione, Director of the Stop TB Department, World Health Organization. "The continued commitment of the Lilly MDR-TB Partnership to the global fight against MDR-TB has greatly helped improve proper TB treatment protocols and monitoring systems. They understood very early that providing drugs to treat MDR-TB was not enough."

"Through this unique and effective partnership, the ICN and nurses on the ground aim to bring quality, dignified care to communities and individuals living with TB, improved adherence to treatment, and strengthened prevention strategies," said Judith Oulton, CEO of the International Council of Nurses. "We are convinced that the cross-sectoral, multi-disciplinary approach of the Lilly partnership will lead not only to better outcomes for TB and MDR-TB patients, but also a reduction in disease burden and drug resistance. This is an innovation that works."

Another centerpiece of Lilly's MDR-TB Partnership is the transfer of technologies and expertise needed to manufacture two Lilly antibiotics used to treat MDR-TB, capreomycin (Capastat(R)) and cycloserine (Seromycin(R)), to facilities in the highest-burdened countries. Since 2003, Lilly has transferred its technology, formula and trademark to generic drug makers, including Aspen Pharmacare (South Africa), Hisun Pharmaceuticals (China), Shasun Chemicals and Drugs (India), and SIA International/Biocom (Russia).

In addition to supplying the necessary manufacturing know-how to produce the drugs, Lilly provides financial assistance for the purchase of equipment and conversion of manufacturing facilities. This includes working with the Chao Center at Purdue University to provide technical expertise and training in good manufacturing practices.

Today, each of the Lilly MDR-TB Partnership firms is contributing to increasing the supply of two much-needed MDR-TB antibiotics. Additionally, since 2000, Lilly has supplied more than one million vials of capreomycin and more than five million capsules of cycloserine through the WHO's Directly Observed Treatment-Plus (DOTS-Plus) program. Through the WHO, projects in 40 countries have been approved to receive concessionary-priced MDR-TB drugs for the treatment of up to 26,000 MDR-TB patients.

Lilly, a leading innovation-driven corporation, is developing a growing portfolio of first-in-class and best-in-class pharmaceutical products by applying the latest research from its own worldwide laboratories and from collaborations with eminent scientific organizations. Headquartered in Indianapolis, Ind., Lilly provides answers -- through medicines and information -- for some of the world's most urgent medical needs. Additional information about Lilly is available at http://www.lilly.com .

Source: Eli Lilly and Company
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