Working with Partners to Achieve a Future Free of River Blindness & Lymphatic Filariasis

Featured News

Stay up to date with these items of interest in the effort to eliminate river blindness and LF. 

Who We Are

Local Power Global Change

Established in 1987, the Mectizan Donation Program (MDP) is the longest-running drug donation program for neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). MDP works with partners in over 45 countries in Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean, the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and the Western Pacific to achieve a future free of river blindness (onchocerciasis) and lymphatic filariasis (LF or elephantiasis).

Across the globe, millions of people are at risk of infection with these debilitating illnesses. 

MDP oversees the donation of Mectizan® by Merck & Co., Inc.* to eligible countries where river blindness and lymphatic filariasis are endemic. National programs work with partners including nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to train a network of community-directed distributors to ensure that everyone living in endemic communities has access to treatment. Together these powerful local efforts are creating a world free of river blindness and LF. 

*Merck is known as MSD outside the USA and Canada.

Our Progress

Each year brings new challenges, new goals, and new victories in the quest to eliminate these diseases. Here’s a snapshot of the current situation.
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Countries eliminating river blindness and/or lymphatic filariasis with Mectizan in 2020
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Number of countries that have eliminated transmission of river blindness with Mectizan
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Mectizan treatments approved for elimination of river blindness & LF in 2020
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Countries that have eliminated LF as a public health problem with Mectizan & albendazole

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Mectizan Expert Committee Statement on Potential Efficacy of Ivermectin on COVID-19

A report by Caly et al. found that ivermectin has shown in vitro activity against SARS-COV-2 (COVID-19) in tissue culture with Vero-hSLAM cells. These findings are consistent with the activity of ivermectin previously reported against other viruses in vitro. However, the high concentration of ivermectin needed to produce anti-viral effects in laboratory tissue culture is far beyond dosage levels approved by the FDA for treatment of parasites in humans and known to be safe and well tolerated. Furthermore, the concentration is many times higher than dosage levels ever tested in humans. High doses in animal models have produced serious toxicity. These preliminary laboratory findings in tissue cultures are not sufficient to indicate that ivermectin will be of clinical benefit to reduce viral loads in COVID-19 patients.

Caly, L., et al., The FDA-approved drug ivermectin inhibits the replication of SARS-CoV-2 in vitro. Antiviral research, 2020.

How the Program

Works