The Affordable Medicines Facility for malaria was set up with the aim of increasing access to new and effective malaria treatment. For decades now treating malaria has become increasingly challenging because the most commonly used treatments, Chloroquiun and sulfadoxine pyrimethamine (SP), are no longer effective as popultions have come very resistant to them.
New improved drugs, based on artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT), are now available but they are much more expensive than the older treatments. Despite ACTs being WHO preferred treatment for malaria since 2001, few people in developing countries can afford them. The AMFm aims to subsidise the cost of ACTs so that they are more accessible and affordable, additionally it hopes that the lower price of ACTs will help to drive out cheap but less effective treatments.
Who set up the AMFm?
The program is a joint effort by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the Roll Back Malaria partnership, the governments of Norway, Britain and the Netherlands, and the Unitaid partnership of 30 countries raising money through airline ticket fees. The AMFm was officially launched in April 2009.
How practically will the AMFm work?
The goal of the medicines facility is to pressure the few drug companies that now make artemisinin combination drugs to lower their wholesale private-sector price to $1 per treatment from $4, and then to use donor funds to subsidize 95 cents of that dollar. The hope is that when the drugs are sold at retail in villages in Africa and Asia, the marked-up price will still be low enough to drive out cheap but less effective alternatives.
MSF’s position on the AMFm
MSF welcomes the AMFm as a project which will help to accelerate the roll out of ACTs to people who need them. However, MSF also has many years of experience in dealing with malaria and has openly offered its suggestions to the board of the AMFm on ways of improving the success of the initiative.
* In April 2009 before the launch of the AMFm, MSF issued a press release calling for the AMFm to exclusively endorse fixed dose combinations (FDCs) of ACTS because they lead to better patient adherence and reduce the risk of drug resistance.
* In January 2009 we wrote a letter to the Global Fund Boad outlining the importance of exclusively using FDCs for the AMFm.* In October 2008 MSF wrote to the Global Fund Board submitting its comments on the AMFm.