Novartis announced today that it will extend its collaboration with the World Health Organization and others to end leprosy.
Novartis will continue to provide free multidrug therapy medicines expected to treat an estimated 850,000 people through the year 2020. The donation is valued at about USD 22 million, and Novartis will provide up to USD 2.5 million to cover the WHO's costs for handling the logistics and distribution.
"Since 2000, we have worked with the WHO to provide free treatment to leprosy patients globally, but we know that no single actor - no matter how committed to patients - can eliminate this debilitating disease alone," said Joseph Jimenez, CEO of Novartis. "We are proud to work with governments, international agencies, nongovernmental organizations and the private sector to ensure that patients receive the treatment they need. Only with effective and coordinated action by all parties involved can we achieve our common goal of making leprosy history."
This announcement extends a commitment that began in 1986. That year, the Novartis Foundation for Sustainable Development began a comprehensive program to combat leprosy. The program is designed to reduce the stigma attached to leprosy, prevent disabilities, and help people reintegrate into society after being cured.
Thanks to the multidrug therapy and the commitment of multiple international stakeholders, more than 14 million people have been cured of leprosy over the past 20 years, reducing the global disease burden by 95%. According to the WHO, fewer than 230,000 new cases were reported in 2010.