Supply of Praziquantel  
MedPharm Bayer Shin Poong

Although the original patent for Praziquantel was held by Bayer A.G. and E. Merck, Shin Poong Pharmaceutical Co. of Korea has become the largest single producer of Praziquantel in the world. . From the very beginning, vigorous competition between Bayer's Biltricide and Shin Poong's Distocide led to significant price decreases in the market (2). The expansion in supply continued as Shin Poong licensed its manufacturing process to producers in Egypt and other countries. In recent years, pharmaceutical companies in East Africa have even begun to develop praziquantel using low cost raw materials from China and Korea-- in fact, two Tanzanian companies produced praziquantel that was used by Schistosomiasis Control Initiative sponsored countries (6).


To date, there is no pharmaceutical donation stream of praziquantel that compares to Merck's donation of Ivermectin or Pfizer's donation of Zithromax. However, the Gates Foundation supplied $30 million to jump start the Schistosomiasis Control Initiative (SCI), which has funded a large amount of praziquantel purchases for local health initiatives. While the American company MedPharm has provided praziquantel using a Canadian monetary donation, the bulk of SCI medications are acquired through a competitive international bidding process. After SCI procures medicines, it directly supplies local programs within each target country (6).


Even with international support, the bulk of administration and distribution efforts occur under the local governments. The Ministries of Health or Education of the particular countries were required to develop de-worming implementation plans and submit them to SCI for approval, after which they were granted financial and technical support (6). The target countries are responsible for using their existing infrastructure to help deliver the donated medications to people that need it the most.


The SCI is scheduled to last for five years in each country, after which each site is expected to have a sustainable program capable of purchasing their own medications. The hope is that governments of endemic countries will reach out to local suppliers to source drugs. Uganda has begun to use government channels to explore a purchasing partner, and Burkina Faso has already ordered and received three shipments of the drug (6).



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