Submitted by Pfizer, Inc.
Pfizer Inc today said its partnership with the South African Ministry of Health to provide Diflucan to treat cryptococcal meningitis in patients with HIV/AIDS is progressing expeditiously, and the program will begin treating patients in the Fall. Diflucan is designed to treat the opportunistic infection due to cryptococcus, and is not a treatment for AIDS.
Pfizer will supply medicine at no charge to patients enrolled in the program for as long as they need it.
“This partnership has my full support and I am pleased that it is moving forward rapidly,” said Dr. Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, the South African Minister of Health. “Public/private partnerships of this nature will play an important role in the AIDS crisis. I am confident the Diflucan program will benefit many thousands of patients in need.”
Konji Sebati MD, Pfizer Medical Director for South Africa, said, “This epidemic is an enormous tragedy for the people of South Africa, and its solution will require the hard work and dedication of many within and outside the public health arena. We hope that our partnership with the Ministry of Health will succeed in addressing at least this one part of the problem.”
Pfizer began a scientific and medical review of the accelerating AIDS epidemic in South Africa in Fall 1999. Pfizer initiated discussions in April with the South African Ministry of Health about its offer to provide Diflucan® (fluconazole) tablets to AIDS patients treated at government hospitals who are suffering from cryptococcal meningitis and cannot afford treatment. Cryptococcal meningitis is a serious illness that can be fatal if left untreated. Diflucan is the only available outpatient treatment for the disease. Pfizer estimates that in South Africa, with approximately 4 million people infected with HIV, as many as 100,000 cases of cryptococcal meningitis can be treated through the partnership program.
The program is intended to help HIV/AIDS patients with cryptococcal meningitis, a serious fungal infection that affects about 10 percent of AIDS patients. The infection invades the fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord, causing damage to the nervous system. In AIDS patients, if left untreated, it is invariably fatal. It is difficult to treat, and therefore, an accurate diagnosis is critical to successful treatment. The disease is one of several opportunistic infections that generally affect patients in the late stages of AIDS, once their immune systems are severely compromised.
In addition to the partnership with South Africa, the company said it also has contacted the Ministry of Health in Kenya to begin discussions to develop a partnership program. Pfizer plans to develop such partnerships in other regions in need, including Asia and Latin America as well as Africa, based on the South African program model.
Founded in 1849, Pfizer is the world's largest research-based pharmaceutical company taking new approaches to better health. We discover and develop innovative medicines to treat and help prevent disease for both people and animals. Through consistent, high-quality manufacturing and distribution operations, our medicines reach patients in 180 nations. We also partner with healthcare providers, governments and local communities around the world to expand access to our medicines and to provide better quality healthcare and health system support. At Pfizer, our colleagues work every day to help people stay happier and healthier longer and to reduce the human and economic burden of disease worldwide.
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