Mandate and Key Activities

The vision of the Mectizan Donation Program (MDP) is to work with partners to achieve a future free of onchocerciasis (river blindness) and lymphatic filariasis (LF or elephantiasis).


As mandated by Merck & Co., Inc., Rahway, N.J., U.S.A.,* MDP—through the guidance of the Mectizan Expert Committee/Albendazole Coordination (MEC/AC)—facilitates good stewardship of the donation and delivery of Mectizan (ivermectin), the frontline medication used to eliminate onchocerciasis worldwide. For the elimination of LF in countries where the two diseases are co-endemic, Mectizan is co-administered with albendazole, donated by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK). Mectizan is also co-administered with diethylcarbamazine (DEC) and albendazole to accelerate the elimination of LF in countries where onchocerciasis is not endemic.

MDP is the secretariat for the Mectizan Expert Committee (MEC), an independent body—established by Merck—of nine internationally recognized experts in the fields of public health, tropical disease, and social science.

The MEC/AC also serves as a coordination body for the donation of albendazole by GSK in countries where river blindness is co-endemic and in countries eligible for IDA. The MEC/AC ensures that the donations of Mectizan and albendazole are coordinated to combat LF effectively. The MEC provides scientific, medical, and technical oversight of the donation of Mectizan to ensure it is used with good medical practice and to ensure the donation is stewarded effectively.

Key Activities

Mectizan Supply to Endemic Countries

  • Assist Merck with short- and long-term drug forecasting to optimize Mectizan manufacturing
  • Ensure countries receive drug shipments at least one month in advance of mass drug administration
  • Ensure drug application submissions and reviews are processed in a timely manner
  • Monitor supply chain to identify and address bottle necks
  • Discuss country-specific supply chain issues during bi-annual MEC meetings
  • Collect acknowledgment of receipt from each country to document the quality of the shipment at delivery (e.g., report visibly damaged packages, missing or incorrect inventory, etc.)

Safety Monitoring and Reporting

  • Promote best medical practices to prevent avoidable adverse events
  • Ensure countries are well prepared for prompt detection and good management of potential adverse events, especially in settings where loiasis is co-endemic
  • Ensure countries report all serious adverse events (SAEs), if any, to MDP
  • Reports SAEs to Merck and, in some cases, to GSK following standard operating procedures
  • Convene the Loa loa Scientific Working Group to address SAEs related to co-infection with loiasis

Country Performance Monitoring

  • Monitor treatment coverage to ensure Merck’s donation of Mectizan is stewarded effectively
  • Provide technical assistance to underperforming countries
  • Facilitate funding in cases where coverage is low due to insufficient resources

Leadership in the Onchocerciasis and LF Elimination Effort

  • Participate in established and emerging national onchocerciasis elimination committee (NOEC) meetings to review progress and refine action plans and drug needs
  • Facilitate cross border collaboration by providing financial support for NOEC chairs to travel to other countries to share lessons learned, address common issues, and harmonize strategies
  • Coordinate Merck and GSK’s shared commitment to facilitate access to Mectizan and albendazole for the global elimination of LF

Communications, Advocacy, and Partnership

  • Produce communication materials that highlight the successes of countries reaching elimination milestones at the national and subnational levels
  • Share recent developments and achievements of the program and its partners
  • Provide a clearinghouse of resources (e.g., training materials, videos, advocacy materials, scientific publications, etc.) through the MDP website
  • Advocate for LF and onchocerciasis elimination through a variety of activities, to include
    • engaging ministers of health
    • awarding countries for achieving elimination and ensuring their success is widely celebrated
    • ensuring evidence-based information is published in the scientific literature to provide strong justification for LF and onchocerciasis elimination
  • Work with partners to leverage resources for country programs

*Merck & Co., Inc., Rahway, N.J., U.S.A., is known as MSD outside of the United States and Canada.