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A million doses of hope against Aids


Boehringer Ingelheim just sent the 1 millionth mother-child pair supply of Viramune® (nevirapine) to Malawi in South East Africa. Since 2000, Boehringer Ingelheim has given free access to single-dose Viramune®, used alone or in combination with other drugs, to prevent mother-to-child transmission of the HI virus during birth. The first delivery within the Viramune® Donation Program (VDP) went to Congo Brazzaville in October 2000. A good pregnancy, natural labour, and a healthy baby is not a given for millions of HIV-positive women and families in developing countries: Mother-to-child transmission of HIV (MTCT) accounts for at least 90 percent of all HIV infections in children worldwide. But the risk can be reduced considerably, given appropriate intervention.

“The Viramune Donation Programme is an excellent example of how the private sector can deliver active help in developing countries. We can defeat AIDS only if all stakeholders, all members of society contribute their share. At the G8 summit in Heiligendamm, G8 leaders reiterated their commitment to the achievement of universal access by 2010; in this context, the G8 committed 60 billion US dollars at Heiligendamm for the fight against HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis. With regard to the key challenges for the pharmaceutical industry, they addressed the urgent need to review price policies on antiretroviral drugs, to support local production of HIV/AIDS pharmaceuticals and to increase investment in research and development,” said Heidi Wieczoreck-Zeul, the German Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Boehringer Ingelheim is committed to providing access to antiretroviral treatment for HIV patients in the developing world, not only via the Viramune® Donation Program, but also by providing Viramune® at substantially reduced prices for chronic therapy in 143 countries and by granting non-assert declarations free of charge, which enable generic manufacturers prequalified by WHO to supply the drug to developing countries.

Fighting mother-to-child transmission in Malawi
“Malawi is making significant progress in preventing the transmission of HIV from mother to child,” – this is how Aida Girma, UNICEF Representative in Malawi, describes the situation in the country, where Mother-to-child transmission accounts for close to 30.000 infections among newborns annually. “From 2003 to 2005, there were only 36 sites providing MTCT prophylaxis, compared to 119 sites by the end of 2006. The supplies from Boehringer Ingelheim have reached the health facilities where the need is overwhelming. There is very strong political will and the government is leading a rapid scale-up of MTCT services to all 542 health sites in the country to be completed by June 2008.”

And effective help is badly needed in Malawi: The country has some 14 million inhabitants. An estimated one million people are living with HIV/AIDS - of those, about 83,000 are children. Only 7 per cent of the children needing treatment are receiving it. 104,000 HIV-positive women deliver in a year with an infection rate of more than 30 percent of the newborns. Less than 15 percent of pregnant women attending antenatal clinics have access to the services to prevent infection.

Viramune® has been used in Malawi since 2003 as a single dose therapy for the mother and for the infant. In 2007, Malawi adopted the combined regimen for MTCT as recommended by WHO using a combination therapy for mothers and the infant. Malawi will continue to receive Viramune® donations to complement the new regimen which is to be rolled out gradually to all sites within the next two years.

“The shipment of the one millionth mother-child pair supply of donated Viramune® shows once again Boehringer Ingelheim’s commitment to developing countries. We reduced the price for Viramune® for continuous AIDS treatment by 90 percent and enable generic manufacturers by non-assert declarations free-of-charge to produce and supply our patented drug in developing countries. More than that we continue to invest in HIV drugs of the future. Today’s treatment may not be the right answer to the mutated virus of tomorrow. So intensive research is the only solution for this devastating disease”, said Dr Alessandro Banchi, chairman of the Board of Managing Directors of Boehringer Ingelheim.

The Viramune® Donation Program – hope in the battle against Aids
Viramune® (nevirapine), developed by Boehringer Ingelheim, is an anti-retroviral that helps prevent mothers from infecting their babies during birth by very simple means. Just one Viramune® tablet taken by the mother during labour and a dose of Viramune® suspension given to the baby within the first 72 hours of birth can reduce the rate of transmission of the virus by approximately 50 percent, as demonstrated in clinical studies.* In line with the WHO Guidelines for drug donations, Boehringer Ingelheim offers Viramune® free of charge to developing countries and emerging economies based on the expressed interest of the local government. The donation is available to any governments, NGOs, charitable organizations or other healthcare providers with comprehensive mother-to-child transmission prevention. The company currently donates the product to 59 countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe. In total, a million mother and child doses have been supplied free of charge so far.


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