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GSK announces WHO intestinal worm plan

GlaxoSmithKline has announced a five-year plan with the World Health Organization to provide extra albendazole to treat intestinal worms

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has announced a five-year plan working with the World Health Organization (WHO) to expand its donation of albendazole for children at risk of intestinal worms, also known as soil-transmitted helminths (STH).

GSK has said it will increase production capacity of the drug following new investments in factories in South Africa and India. It is estimated an extra 400 million treatments will be provided per year, with shipments expected to commence in late 2011.

"Albendazole is a safe, effective and easy to administer treatment for children infected with soil-transmitted helminths, bringing rapid results with long-term benefits," said Dr Margaret Chan, director-general of the WHO.

She continued: "The GSK donation means that many millions more will benefit as part of a strategy that can break the cycle of poverty, ill health, poor school performance and lost productivity."

The commitment comes at the launch of the WHO's first report on neglected tropical diseases - a set of tropical diseases, including STH, which persist only amongst the poorest populations.

"We commend the WHO's leadership to increase the visibility of these disease to the global health community," said Andrew Witty, CEO of GSK. "Today marks another significant commitment by GSK and I hope will help to make a major difference to the lives of people in those countries facing these diseases"

According to the WHO, neglected tropical diseases affect one billion people worldwide, contributing to the weakening of already impoverished countries.

The WHO report aims to convince governments and organisations of the significance of these diseases to encourage greater efforts and investment in their control.

14th October 2010

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