Institute for OneWorld Health to Help Eliminate Neglected Disease in Bangladesh and Nepal

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Visceral Leishmaniasis program expands to support South Asian regional elimination efforts.

“We are very excited that we will be able to bring better health to those most in need,” said Richard Chin, M.D., OneWorld Health's CEO

The Institute for OneWorld Health (iOWH), the US based non-profit pharmaceutical company with offices in San Francisco, USA and India that develops drugs for people with neglected infectious diseases in the developing world, today announced a new program in Nepal and Bangladesh to develop a therapy for Visceral Leishmaniasis (VL) available through a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Expansion of OneWorld Health’s VL program into Nepal and Bangladesh is part of an effort to achieve regional elimination of VL in South Asia (India, Nepal and Bangladesh) by 2015.

VL is a disease acquired through the bite of a sand fly infected with the leishmania parasite. Symptoms include chronic fever, weight loss, anemia and enlargement of the liver and spleen. If left untreated the disease is almost always fatal. About 500,000 new infections are reported each year with most VL cases found in Bangladesh, Nepal, India, Sudan and Brazil.

Current treatments for VL in Bangladesh and Nepal are expensive, may be difficult to administer, and with increasing resistance to some treatments, existing drugs may be ineffective. This project aims to add Paromomycin IM Injection (PMIM), an affordable and safe therapy, to the treatment options. “Helping patients in Bangladesh and Nepal represents the growth of our successful program with PMIM. We are very excited that we will be able to bring better health to those most in need,” said Richard Chin, M.D., OneWorld Health's Chief Executive Officer.

PMIM is an anti-parasitic antibiotic with few side effects and is currently one of the least costly therapies for VL. The drug was developed by iOWH with support from partners including the Indian Council of Medical Research and in 2006, was registered with the Government of India following successful clinical trials there. In 2007 the drug was added to the World Health Organization’s List of Essential Medicines.

In Bangladesh, iOWH will collaborate with the Ministry of Health and the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research (ICDDRB) to implement a clinical study on PMIM in selected government health sites. In addition, a model will be developed to strengthen access to treatment and awareness of VL. This will be done through case identification, referral to public facilities and by building linkages to village health workers.

In Nepal, iOWH will work with the Ministry of Health and with B.P. Koirala Institute of Health Sciences, one of the country’s leading health research institutions, to conduct a study on the effectiveness of using the combination therapy of Paromomycin intramuscular injection (PMIM) with Miltefosine (MF) in government hospitals. The purpose of the study is to assess the feasibility, acceptability and safety of the use of this combination therapy to support the government of Nepal’s adoption of PMIM-MF as one of the first-line treatment options included in Nepal’s VL Elimination Program.

Using the expertise gained through their work in India, iOWH, in collaboration with local partners, will provide project oversight and develop training programs and education materials. In addition, capacity will be built at the study centers as knowledge will be transferred to healthcare personnel and local staff will be trained in the appropriate use of the treatment and good clinical research skills.

India-based Gland Pharma Ltd will manufacture PMIM for the studies in Bangladesh and Nepal and will be working with the governments to obtain product registration and marketing approval.

About the Institute for OneWorld Health
Headquartered in San Francisco, the mission of the Institute for OneWorld Health is to develop safe, effective and affordable new medicines for people with infectious diseases in the developing world. More information about iOWH can be found at


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Amanda L'Esperance
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