From: Reuters
Published April 23, 2008 02:30 AM

Novartis says cutting prices on malaria drug

ZURICH (Reuters) - Switzerland's Novartis AG is cutting prices for its malaria drug Coartem by a fifth to improve access to treatment, especially in Africa, it said on Wednesday.

Novartis said on Wednesday it would reduce prices for the drug from this Friday, which is World Malaria Day, and it was able to supply the drug more cheaply due to efficiency improvements at its production facilities in China and the United States.

Malaria, which is caused by a parasite transmitted by mosquitoes, kills nearly a million people a year and is particularly deadly for young children and adolescents in Africa.

The disease causes the death of one child every 30 seconds, mainly African children under the age of five, according to the World Health Organisation.

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Novartis said it supplied Coartem to the public sector without profit and had sent more than 160 million treatments to malaria-endemic countries since 2001.

Malaria has become resistant to some drugs, and work on a vaccine has been slow, but Coartem, a pill that consists of older drug lumefantrine plus an artemisinin derivative, is an effective treatment.

(For full Reuters Africa coverage and to have your say on the top issues, visit: http://africa.reuters.com/ )

(Reporting by Sam Cage, editing by Will Waterman)

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