Tokyo, June 1, 2017 - Astellas Pharma Inc. (President and CEO: Yoshihiko Hatanaka, "Astellas") today announced that it has committed to supporting the Global Health Innovative Technology Fund (GHIT Fund) for the next 5 years (FY2018 to FY2022) together with a cross-sector group1 of funding partners. A total amount of commitment to the GHIT Fund replenishment is estimated to be over US$ 200 million.
The GHIT Fund launched in 2013 to leverage Japanese expertise and capability for life-saving health innovations, including drugs, vaccines and diagnostics, to combat HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, neglected tropical diseases (NTDs)2 prevalent in the developing world. A public interest corporation registered in Japan, the GHIT Fund is the first international public-private partnership (PPP) between the Japanese Government: Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, private sector, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation3, the Wellcome Trust4 and the United Nations Development Program.
The fund has invested approximately $100 million in 61 global projects in the first five-year phase (fiscal year 2013-2017), advancing various research and development activities from early-stage exploratory research to clinical-stage development in South America and Africa, to contribute to resolving the global health issue directly and efficiently.
Astellas participates in a consortium to explore the development of praziquantel5 for pediatric use, which was established in 2012 as an international PPP, and the consortium received funding from the GHIT Fund. Astellas contributes to advancing the development of a pediatric formulation praziquantel leveraging its own formulation technologies and development know-how.
"GHIT catalyzed a mindset shift for the Japanese pharmaceutical industry vis-à-vis solving global health issues. More specifically, it created a mechanism for Japanese pharmaceutical companies to take leadership roles in solving global health issues by combining their R&D expertise and capabilities in cooperation with those of governments, international organizations and nonprofits." commented Yoshihiko Hatanaka, President and CEO of Astellas.
Astellas contributes to resolving Access to Health issues through continuous participation in the GHIT Fund.
1About Funding Partners for GHIT Fund's Second Phase (FY2018 - FY2022)
Full Partners: Government of Japan (Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare), Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Wellcome Trust, Astellas Pharma Inc., Chugai Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd., Daiichi Sankyo Company, Limited, Eisai Co., Ltd., Fujifilm Corporation, Shionogi & Co., Ltd., Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Limited
Associate Partners: Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd., Sysmex Corporation
Affiliate Partners: GlaxoSmithKline K.K., Johnson & Johnson, Kyowa Hakko Kirin Co., Ltd., Merck KGaA, Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma Corporation, Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma Co., Ltd.
2About Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs)
According to the World Health Organization, Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) are a diverse group of communicable diseases that prevail in tropical and subtropical conditions in 149 countries and affect more than one billion people, costing developing economies billions of dollars every year. They mainly affect populations living in poverty, without adequate sanitation and in close contact with infectious vectors and domestic animals and livestock. NTDs are a group of 18 infectious diseases - Buruli ulcer, Chagas disease, Dengue/Chikungunya, Dracunculiasis (guinea-worm disease), Echinococcosis, Foodborne trematodiases, Human African trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness), Leishmaniasis, Leprosy (Hansen's disease), Lymphatic filariasis, Mycetoma Onchocerciasis (river blindness), Rabies, Schistosomiasis, Soil-transmitted helminthiases, Taeniasis/Cysticercosis, Trachoma, Yaws (Endemic treponematoses).
3About the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Guided by the belief that every life has equal value, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation works to help all people lead healthy, productive lives. In developing countries, it focuses on improving people's health and giving them the chance to lift themselves out of hunger and extreme poverty. In the United States, it seeks to ensure that all people—especially those with the fewest resources—have access to the opportunities they need to succeed in school and life. Based in Seattle, Washington, the foundation is led by CEO Sue Desmond-Hellmann and Co-chair William H. Gates Sr., under the direction of Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett. www.gatesfoundation.org
4About Wellcome Trust
The Wellcome Trust is a global charitable foundation dedicated to improving health. They support bright minds in science, the humanities and the social sciences, as well as education, public engagement and the application of research to medicine. Their investment portfolio gives them the independence to support such transformative work as the sequencing and understanding of the human genome, research that established front-line drugs for malaria and Wellcome Collection, their free venue for the incurably curious that explores medicine, life and art. www.wellcome.ac.uk
5Schistosomiasis and consortium of pediatric formulation for praziguantel
Schistosomiasis is one of the most prevalent parasitic diseases in developing countries centered on Africa and South America. e disease has a particularly high incidence rate among children. The existing 'gold standard' treatment for schistosomiasis is praziquantel. However, one challenge is that praziquantel tablets are difficult to administer to preschool age children, including infants and toddlers, mainly due to the risk of choking stemming from their large size and the drug's bitter taste. Having set up a consortium with other pharmaceutical companies, research institutions and international
non-prot organizations, Astellas is developing a pediatric formulation of praziquantel. The pediatric formulation newly developed by Astellas uses its original drug formulation technology. The pediatric
formulation was designed to be smaller than the existing tablet and to be orally dispersible so that it can be taken even without water, with reduction of bitterness. In addition, the pediatric formulation can be manufactured using simple production technology, while holding down production costs, and the tablets are stable even in the hot and humid environment of tropical areas. Astellas has transferred the technology and expertise needed to develop the pediatric formulation to a consortium partner in Brazil,
thereby helping to build local pharmaceutical manufacturing capabilities. The consortium is conducting Phase II clinical trials. Astellas continues to provide its expertise and technology to the consortium.
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