Why AS/AQ answers the needs of patients
Many of the older drugs used to treat malaria like chloroquine are increasingly ineffective because of resistance. Newer treatment options – more effective anti-malarials drugs like amodiaquine (AQ) or artesunate (AS), are needed.
But these drugs need to be protected from resistance. One way to reduce the risks of further resistance developing is to make sure patients take the full course of medicines. This means the use of antimalarials, like other drugs, should be as simple as possible.
As a fixed-dose combination (it combines two drugs into a single pill) AS/AQ answers to that need. It avoids the risk that patients take only one drug at a time, which would foster resistance of the malaria parasite to the drug.
Plus the new formulation is designed so that it is patient-friendly. Adult treatment is limited to two tablets a day for three days, instead of eight tablets per day if patients were taking the two drugs separately. The paediatric dosing for infants and children is also simplified: one tablet a day for three days.
The paediatric formulations can be easily crushed and mixed with liquids or semi-liquid food, which makes giving the pills a lot easier. AS/AQ is a real step forward for the treatment of malaria.
What makes AS/AQ an innovative alternative model for drug development
Because it demonstrates how research and development can take place without patenting and be made available in the public domain.
“The fact that the drug is not protected by a patent makes this a very promising model for further research on neglected diseases," explains Dr. Christophe Fournier, MSF International Council President. "Indeed, the fact that the drug is not patented will allow for several sources of production, ensuring price competition and sufficient availability of the drug."
The absence patents means that generic competition is possible. Generic competition has been the most effective mechanism to date in ensuring the cost of medicines is brought down.
In addition, what makes the AS/AQ model interesting is that Sanofiaventis and DNDi made a commitment to provide AS/AQ at a “no profit-no loss” price to the poorest patients. This price level will apply, right from the start, to public markets. This new drug is already less expensive than all other fixed-dose combinations containing the most powerful antimalarials that exist today, known as artemisinin derivatives.