Fosun Pharma’s Self-developed Artemisinin Medicines Inject New Impetus to Malaria Prevention and Treatment in Africa

Release time:2024-04-25 Content sourced from: Page View:

World Malaria Day is marked each year on April 25. World Health Organization (WHO) gave as the theme for World Malaria Day 2024 Accelerating the fight against malaria for a more equitable world. WHO stated that malaria not only continues to directly endanger health and cost lives, but it also perpetuates a vicious cycle of inequity. People living in the most vulnerable situations including pregnant women and children under 5 years of age continue to be disproportionately impacted.

Artemisinin medicines developed with China’s scientific research efforts have become a ticket for China’s innovative medicines to go global. According to the WHO World Malaria Report 2023, globally in 2022, there were an estimated 249 million malaria cases and 608,000 malaria deaths. Sub-Saharan Africa accounted for more than 95% of the global malaria cases and deaths. Globally, an estimated 11.7 million malaria deaths were averted in the period 2000-2022. Among them, the average malaria mortality rate (number of deaths per 100,000 population at risk) in Africa decreased from 0.14% per 100,000 population to 0.055%, from 142.6 per 100,000 population in 2020 to 55.5 in 2022. The widespread use of artemisinin medicines is one of the key success factors. Several global multi-center phase III clinical studies and real-world data have shown that artesunate injection is effective in reducing malaria mortality rate.


Self-developed Artemisinin medicines covering from prevention to severe disease treatment


As a leading global R&D and production enterprise of anti-malaria drugs, anti-malaria drugs produced under the R&D and innovation of Fosun Pharma cover malaria prevention, general malaria treatment and severe malaria treatment.A total of 33 products in the anti-malaria series were approved by WHO pre-qualification (WHO PQ), which have made significant contribution to malaria prevention and treatment in countries and regions such as Africa.


In 2010, Artesun®, an artesunate for injection independently developed and manufactured by Fosun Pharma, was approved by WHO PQ. Since 2011, it has been recommended by WHO as a first-line drug for the treatment of severe malaria in children and adults. At the same time, Fosun Pharma is also a supplier of anti-malaria drugs of the Global Fund, UNICEF, WHO and African governments. By the end of 2023, Fosun Pharma has supplied over 340 million doses of artesunate for injection across the world, treating more than 68 million severe malaria patients worldwide.


Meanwhile, Fosun Pharma went deep into the remote areas of African villages and meet the needs of clinicians through continuous innovation. Through process optimization, it has independently developed and launched the second generation of artesunate injection (trade name: Argesun®), which is the first one-step preparation passing the WHO PQ in the world. The preparation time of the drug was reduced from 3 minutes to 1 minute, which can save the time for treating patients with severe malaria. Meanwhile, the concentration of Argesun® was standardized for intravenous and intramuscular injections, which makes it more convenient and safer for clinical purposes.


Artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs) are recognized by WHO as the best available treatment. However, in recent years, drug resistance to these therapies has also begun to emerge in Plasmodium falciparum, which is becoming a major threat to malaria control. The global multicenter Phase III clinical trial project led by Fosun Pharma for a triple artemisinin combination drug (Artemether-Lumefantrine-Amodiaquine fixed-dose formulation) against malaria in Africa and Southeast Asia has also received attention from all parties, and the Japan-based Global Health Innovative Technology Fund (GHIT Fund) announced in December 2023 that it will invest approximately US$3.3 million (approximately 500 million yen1), to accelerate the development and commercialization of this new drug. This drug candidate should have a significant public health benefit as it is expected to play an important role in the fight against artemisinin partial resistance (ART-R) which is now observed widely in the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) of Southeast Asia2 and to some extent in several African countries, including Rwanda and Uganda.


Further improving the accessibility of second generation of Artesunate for injection to benefit remote areas of Africa


From April 21 to 27, the 8th Multilateral Initiative on Malaria (MIM) Pan-African Malaria Conference was held in Kigali-Rwanda. As one of the main sponsors of the conference, Fosun Pharma showcased its full range of antimalarial products and successfully hosted the academic symposium "Improving antimalarial treatment for severe P.falciparummalaria" on April 23. The symposium introduced the recent trends in the global and particularly African burden of severe malaria and the latest treatment and clinical management strategies to over 300 malaria researchers, clinicians, malaria control officials, and NGO representatives from Africa and around the world.


The session was co-chaired by Professor Olugbenga A Mokuolu from Nigeria (Co-Chair of RBM Case Management Working Group; Strategic Adviser on Malaria Elimination to the Honorable Minister of Health Nigeria) and Professor Marielle Bouyou Akotet from the Université des Sciences de la Santé Gabon.


Professor Arjen Dondorp and Professor Joel Tarning from the University of Oxford, and Dr. Samwel Gesase from the National Institute for Medical Research in Tanzania, respectively, presented the important contributions of injectable artesunate in the treatment of severe malaria patients from the epidemiological, clinical pharmacological, and pharmacoeconomic perspectives. They also highlighted the clinical advantages of Fosun Pharma's second-generationof artesunate injectionwith one-step preparationin the management of severe malaria. The 1.5 hours scientific session was ended by an introduction of the post-discharge malaria chemoprevention, PDMC by Professor Kamija Phiri from Kamuzu University of Health Sciences Malawi.


The attendees highly appreciated the academic professionalism of Fosun Pharma's symposium on severe malaria and recognized Fosun Pharma's commitment to affordable innovation in bringing a new generation of artesunate injectionwith one-step preparationto Africa. The experts agreed that "artesunate injection is currently the most effective drug for the treatment of severe malaria. The new generation of artesunate injectionwith one-step preparationwill further enhance the convenience of clinical use and reduce the clinical cost of severe malaria treatment, benefiting critically ill children with malaria in remote areas of Africa where medical conditions are poor."


From treatment to prevention, effectively reducing the incidence of severe malaria in children


According to the WHO, children under 5 years old are still the most vulnerable population to malaria infection. in 2022, an estimated 4 out of 5 malaria-related deaths in the African Region were among children under 5 years of age. Inequities in access to education and financial resources further exacerbates risk: children under 5 years of age from the poorest households in sub-Saharan Africa are 5 times more likely to be infected with malaria than those from the wealthiest households.


To improve this situation, Fosun Pharma, in collaboration with the National Malaria Control Program in Africa, continued to carry out the “Promoting Malaria Prevention Knowledge among Children Program” in 14 malaria-prone countries in Africa, targeting at the community level, in order to raise the awareness of malaria prevention among the local population in Africa, and to help reduce the incidence rate of malaria and interrupt the transmission of malaria in the community. In August 2018, Fosun Pharma's SPAQ-CO®Disp (co-packed sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine dispersible tablets and amodiaquine dispersible tablets), for the prevention of malaria in children, was approved by WHO PQ . By the end of 2023, more than 258 million children in Africa had benefited from the "Seasonal Malaria Chemoprevention Program", for which SPAQ-CO®Disp is used as the core drug, effectively reducing the incidence of malaria in children under five years old in Africa.


Promoting the localization of pharmaceutical production and helping to enhance the healthcare capacity of developing countries


Based in China and with a global presence, Fosun Pharma has always been committed to providing high-quality medical solutions to patients worldwide. It actively expands its business in emerging markets, including Africa, India and Southeast Asia, to improve the accessibility of medicines in developing countries. By the end of 2023, Fosun Pharma had established five regional distribution centers in emerging markets. The overseas commercialization team consists of approximately 1,000 people, dedicated to enhancing the accessibility of pharmaceutical products.


To achieve localized pharmaceutical manufacturing and supply in Africa and to enhance the accessibility and affordability of pharmaceutical and healthcare products in the African region, Fosun Pharma’s Cote d’Ivoire park project was initiated in November 2022. The project is planned to be carried out in three phases, with the first phase expected to be completed in 2024. Upon completion of the project, the production capacity of the park will be expanded to 5 billion tablets per year and include a warehouse with a storage capacity of 10,000 pallets, which is expected to bring nearly 1,000 job opportunities to the Greater Bassam area and effectively promote the development of the pharmaceutical industry in Cote d’Ivoire.