GSK wins World Business Award for efforts to end Lymphatic Filariasis
Philadelphia, PA - May 10, 2006 - At ceremonies this evening in New York, GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE: GSK) will be honored by the International Chamber of Commerce as a recipient of the 2006 World Business Award. The Award highlights GSK’s involvement in a global program to eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis (LF), a disease that disproportionately affects the world’s poor. The LF program was one of ten initiatives selected for the award from among 73 projects from 33 countries.
“For the first time since smallpox and polio, we have the opportunity to eliminate a disease from the face of the earth,” said JP Garnier CEO of GlaxoSmithKline. “For too long, lymphatic filariasis has been a neglected disease that plagues the poorest communities in the developing world with severe economic, social and physiological suffering. But we can change all that. We can and will eliminate LF from the face of the earth and ensure that no country or person ever again suffers from the effects of this dreaded and disabling disease.”
Yesterday, at the United Nation’s Headquarters, the 2006 World Business Award winners gave overviews of their projects to the 14th meeting of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development. Tonight Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland and current Chair of The Ethical Globalization Initiative, will present the awards.
The World Business Awards are the first worldwide business awards to recognize the crucial role of the private sector in implementing the UN’s Millennium Development Goals of reducing poverty by half by 2015. The Awards program is organized by the International Chamber of Commerce in association with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Prince of Wales International Business Leaders Forum (IBLF). GSK’s PHASE (Personal Hygiene and Sanitation Education) public health and education program for hand washing was a previous winner of this award in 2004.
The global program to eliminate LF impacts six of the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). These goals were agreed by world leaders at a United Nations summit in 2000 which sought to compel countries to eradicate extreme hunger and poverty, provide universal primary education, promote gender equality and reduce child mortality and disease.
LF is most prevalent in the poorest communities in the developing world. The disease traps people in poverty by causing severe disfigurement and attacks of filarial fever which prevent them earning a livelihood. The cost of the disease is billions of dollars each year in lost productivity and the physical and psychological suffering of those afflicted.
Notes to editors:
About the Lymphatic Filariasis (LF) program
The LF program is an ambitious partnership with the World Health Organization (WHO) to eliminate LF over a 20 year period. Two drugs given once a year for five years can halt the transmission of the disease — GlaxoSmithKline produces one of the two required drugs, albendazole, which is also a de-worming medicine. In Africa, the other drug, Mectizan® is donated by Merck & Co; outside Africa, DEC is used with albendazole.
Over the anticipated 20 year life of the programme, GSK expects to deliver an estimated six billion tablets, valued at $1 billion. GSK also provides over $1 million each year in grants to the Global Alliance to Eliminate LF and has a dedicated team of GSK employees to support research and community and education initiatives.
LF is caused by a microscopic, parasitic worm that invades the human lymphatic system. The disease is spread by mosquitoes that carry the filarial worms. The disease can cause devastating symptoms such as grotesquely swollen legs, arm and genitals, as well as debilitating fevers and pain. The disease is usually contracted in childhood, often before the age of five. The disabling aspects of the disease exacerbate the cycle of poverty as those suffering from LF are often too incapacitated to provide adequately for their families. They also become ostracized from school and community life.
GlaxoSmithKline — one of the world’s leading research-based pharmaceutical and healthcare companies — is committed to improving the quality of human life by enabling people to do more, feel better and live longer.
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