Acumen Blog

Making more malaria treatments available

Africa - artemisia.jpgAcumen Fund investee Advanced Bio-Extracts Limited (ABE) is working hard to fight malaria by producing low-cost artemisinin in East Africa. Artemisinin is a key ingredient in the new malaria treatments (artemisinin-based combination therapies or ACTs) recommended by the World Health Organization to fight the increase in cases of drug-resistant malaria.

As this recent article in The New York Times explains, until recently, the high cost of ACTs significantly limited the drugs’ availability to the people most in need. The high cost was a result of many things, including limited availability of the raw material used to produce artemisinin. In the past few years, ABE has played a key role in scaling-up raw material production and pushing the cost of artemisinin down. Whereas ACTs used to be sold in Africa for $3 – $4 per adult treatment, they now cost approximately $1 per adult treatment.

In January 2007, ABE commissioned the first factory in Africa to produce artemisinin and has delivered enough artemisinin to treat 3 million cases of malaria in only two months. ABE expects to manufacture 50 million ACTs (malaria treatments) by the end of the year. In addition to supplying artemisinin to the leading producer of ACTs for the World Health Organization, ABE is affiliated with the pharmaceutical company that will manufacture ASAQ, the anti-malaria medicine mentioned in the NYT article. ABE is excited about the introduction of ASAQ and believes that the fewer pills required will significantly improve the effectiveness of the medication. Many people discontinue treatment mid-dosage with other ACTs because of the high number of pills required. It is exciting to support a company that is making such an enormous impact on the fight against malaria.  

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