Coartem(reg) (artemether-lumefantrine) most effective malaria treatment in areas of high resistance to conventional anti-malarials
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g malaria where there is a high level of resistance to sulfadoxinepyrimethamine and amodiaquine.

Unprecedented scale-up underway

The rapid scale-up underway at Novartis to meet public sector demand for Coartem is unprecedented in commercial drug production for a new chemical entity. The effort will require operation of two large scale manufacturing plants to produce more than 1.9 billion Coartem tablets - which equates to 120 million treatments - in 2006.

"We have already significantly increased our investments in Coartem production, including in the cultivation of Artemisia annua and the extraction of artemisinin, which is currently in short supply due to the annual planting cycle," Dr. Vasella added. "We are confident that we will succeed in increasing the available volumes to 30 million treatments by the end of the year and to 120 million treatments in 2006. While we provide Coartem at cost, our efforts would be in vain without the Global Fund's financial aid allowing governments of malaria endemic countries to purchase the drug."

Novartis said its investments are focused on expanding manufacturing infrastructure, increasing and diversifying the supplier base for the production of raw material and transitioning a largely wild crop to commercial plantation cultivation. For the first time, significant volumes of artemisinin will be produced in Africa following the 2005 harvest.

Novartis said its ability to meet 2005 Coartem production goals remains dependent upon the availability of sufficient supplies of the key natural raw material Artemisia annua and the extraction product artemisinin, and, most importantly, the timely receipt of firm Coartem orders from affected countries.

"Firm financing commitments for the purchase of ACTs is perhaps the highest return investment in improving public health that donor organizations can make today," said Professor Bob Snow, a leading scientist in the field of malaria research