The Mectizan Donation Program joins 10GA as Programme Partner

Communications Officer
Organisation: IAPB

The Mectizan Donation Program joins IAPB’s 10th General Assembly, the premier global event discussing public health issues related to blindness and visual impairment, as a ‘Programme Partner’.

The Mectizan Donation Program (MDP) will be presenting a course on onchocerciasis as part of the 10GA Scientific Programme. Onchocerciasis, commonly known as river blindness, is caused by infection with the filarial parasite Onchocerca volvulus, which is transmitted by the bites of a black fly. The vast majority of the estimated 37 million infected people live in West, Central and East Africa, with smaller foci in Latin America and Yemen. River blindness is one of the leading causes of preventable blindness worldwide. Mectizan—the only known drug well-tolerated by humans–relieves the agonizing itching that accompanies the disease and halts progression toward blindness.

Merck’s* Mectizan Donation Program is the longest-running, disease-specific, drug donation programme and public/private partnership of its kind. It was started to provide medical, technical and administrative oversight of the donation of Mectizan, after Merck* announced in 1987 that it would be donated to all who needed it, for as long as needed.

For the session on onchocerciasis, the Mectizan Donation Program and IAPB will work together to bring specialist speakers to present the latest research on the elimination of onchocerciasis worldwide.

“Ivermectin’s (Mectizan) impact on the world is not difficult to fathom. A billion treatments have been administered so far, and its discovery garnered a Nobel Prize in 2015” noted Dr Adrian Hopkins, Mectizan Donation Program. “The Program is proof that we can eliminate the disease, with political support and international collaboration”.

10GA’s theme is “Stronger Together”. In 2016, IAPB will be showcasing one of the eye health sector’s remarkable success stories – our longstanding cross-sectoral partnerships. “We are delighted that the Mectizan Donation Program is one of our Programme Partners”, said Joanna Conlon, Director of Development, IAPB. “The Program is at the forefront of global efforts to eliminate an avoidable cause of blindness that effects the poorest. This Assembly is an opportunity to celebrate its success and focus on the end-game”. 

About Mectizan Donation Program

Established 29 years ago, the Mectizan Donation Program (MDP) is the longest-running, disease-specific, drug donation program and public/private partnership of its kind. Currently, MDP approves an average of 140 million treatments for onchocerciasis and lymphatic filariasis annually.

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*Merck is known as MSD outside the U.S. and Canada