Berlin (vfa). Each year more than 800,000 people die worldwide from malaria infections. Children under 5 years of age in southern Africa are most at risk. The newest medications, provided by researching pharmaceutical companies under special conditions, are mostly quite effective, but the first cases of resistant agents are appearing. “Researching pharmaceutical companies are therefore developing ten new malaria medications, which are either in clinical studies or have already been submitted for approval. There are also a further 14 projects currently underway in laboratories,“ declared Cornelia Yzer, the CEO of the Association for Researching Pharmaceutical Companies (vfa), with a view to World Malaria Day on April 25.

Researching pharmaceutical companies are also becoming more involved in the field within the scope of international efforts to fight malaria. This includes not only the supply of medicines, but also the promotion of educational programmes for the general public which address precautionary measures as well as the distribution of mosquito nets treated with insecticide. “Unfortunately, the catastrophic condition of the medical infrastructure in affected countries all too often sees to it that the emergency measures do not reach those who most need them,“ laments Yzer. “Without more doctors and pharmacists in the field, the drugs do not reach their destination.“

In the development of new malaria medications, the companies cooperate with public institutions, academic research institutes and foundations within the scope of public-private partnerships. Included in these are Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV) and Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative (DNDi). Within this cooperation, it was decided in advance which rights each partner has to the outcomes of the collaborative effort and which delivery promises each partner is responsible for. MMV is overseeing more than 25 malaria projects alone, while the DNDi is overseeing two.

Researching pharmaceutical companies are also working on immunisations for malaria. A vaccine specifically for children, for instance, has just reached the last phase of its clinical trial. If the hitherto results prove to be true, whereby the vaccine can reduce the number of severe cases of malaria by half, it could obtain authorization by 2012.

The German Association of Research-Based Pharmaceutical CompanThe German Association of Research-Based Pharmaceutical Companies (vfa) is the trade association of the research-based pharmaceutical companies in Germany. It represents the interests of 47 globally leading research-based pharmaceutical companies and more than 100 subsidiaries and affiliated companies in the areas of health, research and economic policy. The vfa member companies make up about two-thirds of the German pharmaceutical market and employ more than nearly 90,000 people in Germany, including about more than 17,000 in research and development. The vfa's press conferences – now available on the Internet. For more information, please visit: www.vfa.de/en/press/online-pk-akkreditierung-en.html