Summer and autumn have seen the careful resumption of Mectizan® mass drug administration (MDA) campaigns around the world with COVID-19 safety measures in place. There is hope that momentum can be regained in the coming months. In this newsletter, you will find news of progress made this year thanks to the determination of our partners to #EliminateLF and #StampOutOncho.
In another very complicated year, many countries have managed to implement or even catch up on administration of Mectizan for river blindness and lymphatic filariasis elimination.
Three critical meetings gather stakeholders and partners for a powerful exchange of ideas
In October, MDP convened the 66th Mectizan Expert Committee/ Albendazole Coordination meeting; an onchocerciasis stakeholders gathering; and a meeting among MDP, Merck & Co. Inc.*, and NGO partners.
The 66th Mectizan Expert Committee/Albendazole Coordination (MEC/AC) meeting was held online on October 12 & 13, 2021, led by MEC Chair Pr. Gilbert Burnham. A broad range of partners participated, including members of MEC/AC; liaisons from WHO headquarters and WHO regional offices; and representatives from Merck, GlaxoSmithKline, and Eisai. The MEC/AC was pleased to welcome a new member: NTD expert Dr. Yaya Coulibaly of the University of Science, Techniques, and Technology of Bamako, Mali.
Brenda Colatrella Retires from Merck & Co., Inc.
Ms. Brenda Colatrella retired in August, stepping down from her position as Associate Vice-President, Corporate Responsibility at Merck. During her tenure at Merck, she served in roles of increasing responsibility. In her role as liaison to MDP, she served as the backbone of Merck’s revolutionary donation of Mectizan as it grew from shipping hundreds of thousands of treatments each year to shipping hundreds of millions. MDP is grateful for Brenda’s years of dedication and commitment to ensuring that Mectizan—pledged in 1987 to be donated “as much as needed for as long as needed”—is available to all who need it for river blindness and lymphatic filariasis (LF) elimination. This was no small feat. Brenda responded to feedback from the field and made significant changes to facilitate the distribution of Mectizan, including shepherding the change of packaging from foil strips to bottles to make it easier to open and to dose.
Latest WHO Weekly Epidemiological Record reports show progress despite pandemic
Take a break with this new video: “Treating Diseases in Remote River Communities”
Funds are still available for materials needed to prevent the spread of COVID-19 during Mass Drug Administration with Mectizan
For the remaining available funds, priority will be given to NGOs working in countries that have not yet received support from this COVID-19 mitigation grant. Visit the Mectizan Donation Program website to access the grant application and guidelines, or send an email to Senior Associate Director Joni Lawrence (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you have any questions.
A Mectizan Expert Committee (MEC) statement on the use of Mectizan during the COVID-19 pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought interest from the media and an increase in publications on the action of ivermectin on SARS-Cov-2 viral replication. While we recognize the importance of COVID-19 interventions, Mectizan is donated strictly and solely for onchocerciasis and lymphatic filariasis elimination in the 50 endemic partner countries that have applied and been approved for Mectizan by the MEC. Merck & Co., Inc.* manufactures Mectizan, and Mectizan is approved for use, in the appropriate dose, specifically for the treatment of onchocerciasis (river blindness) and lymphatic filariasis (elephantiasis).
The Mectizan Donation Program provides treatments with the clear understanding that donated Mectizan will only be used for these two diseases through mass drug distribution programs. Use of donated Mectizan for any other indication and at unauthorized doses is strictly prohibited and can be dangerous.
*Merck & Co., Inc., Kenilworth, New Jersey USA, is known as MSD outside the United States and Canada.
The Mectizan Donation Program is an international program to eliminate river blindness and lymphatic filariasis primarily funded by Merck, with support from GlaxoSmithKline.