OneWorld Health

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PATH & Sanofi start major production of synthetic anti-malaria drug | 

African child with cerebral malaria

Mike Urban

African child with cerebral malaria

Malaria remains one of the world’s biggest killers and also a massive economic drag on poor countries, poor families.

One of our best weapons against this scourge is a drug known as artemisinin, which is harvested from the plant sweet wormwood and, as a crop, is about as predictable as corn or hog futures.

A major new initiative to be launched tomorrow in Italy by Seattle-based PATH in collaboration with the French drug maker Sanofi aims to introduce more predictability – and more of the drug.

“Our goal is to stabilize both the price and supply,” said Ponni Subbiah, head of global drug development for PATH’s subsidiary OneWorld Health – a non-profit drug company based in San Francisco that PATH acquired in 2011 to expand its global health expertise in this area usually left up to commercial drug makers.

On Thursday, at Sanofi’s manufacturing facility in Garessio, Italy, Subbiah and others will officially launch industrial scale production of  semi-synthetic artemisinin aimed at producing 35 metric tons of it – approximately 70 million antimalarial treatments. Continue reading

PATH acquires drug company to speed fight on neglected diseases | 

Seattle-based PATH announced today that it is acquiring the non-profit drug company OneWorld Health.

OneWorld Health, which will continue to operate from its headquarters in San Francisco, was created in 2000 as the first non-profit pharmaceutical company and has been focused from the beginning on creating drugs and vaccines for use in poor countries.

“I don’t think we could have considered trying to partner with a for-profit drug company,” said Hugh Chang, head of special projects at PATH who will act as interim chief of drug development for the PATH-OneWorld Health merger. “That would have been a misalignment in terms of our missions.”

PATH, launched in the late 1970s in Seattle initially focused on women’s health issues, has grown into one of the largest players in the global health arena — due largely to its key role administering and carrying out many well-funded projects sponsored by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Known for its talent at bringing together public and private partners in innovative ways to solve health problems in poor countries, this is the first time PATH will have a direct role in developing drugs.

In the past, PATH has had to spend a lot of time and effort working to convince drug makers to join in the fight against neglected diseases. Now it is a drug maker. Continue reading