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Issued: London UK; Geneva, Switzerland 

GSK and Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV) today announced the submission of a regulatory application by GSK to the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) seeking approval of single-dose tafenoquine treatment for the radical cure (prevention of relapse) of Plasmodium vivax (P. vivax) malaria.

Approval of tafenoquine by the TGA, who will act as the reference regulatory authority, will help facilitate registrations in countries where malaria is endemic. If approved, tafenoquine would be the first new medicine for the prevention of relapse of P. vivax malaria in more than 60 years, potentially addressing the need for a single-dose and effective medicine for this debilitating disease.

The TGA submission includes phase III data from the previously reported GATHER and DETECTIVE studies conducted by GSK in partnership with MMV.[1] It follows the announcement of a submission to the US Food and Drug Administration in November 2017. 

Pauline Williams, Head of Global Health R&D, GSK said: “Plasmodium vivax malaria has a significant impact on global public health and we want to help these vulnerable patient populations. This regulatory submission shows our continued commitment to lead the fight against malaria and our collaborative efforts with MMV to support the World Health Organization’s goal to end malaria for good. If tafenoquine is approved by Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration, it will help pave the way for potential approvals in countries where malaria is endemic. The availability of this single-dose medicine could potentially revolutionise the treatment of this terrible disease and become an important tool in malaria eradication efforts.”

David Reddy, CEO of Medicines for Malaria Venture said: “MMV and GSK are committed to the development of single-dose tafenoquine for relapsing malaria. After many years of working in partnership we are delighted to now reach the exciting milestone of regulatory filing with the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA). The world has been waiting over 60 years for a new medicine for this indication and a single dose medicine would be unprecedented. Submission to the TGA is particularly important given Australia’s recently announced Indo-Pacific Health Security Agenda that promotes malaria elimination, and improved regulatory processes in the region toward that goal. The burden of relapsing malaria falls heavily in the region, and Australia is taking leadership to end this scourge.”

Should it be approved for use, GSK and MMV are committed to making tafenoquine available at a not-for-profit price in malaria-endemic countries to enable wide patient access to those who need it most. Tafenoquine is not approved for use anywhere in the world. GSK plans to progress regulatory filings in other countries in 2018.

About Plasmodium vivax malaria

The Plasmodium parasite is a complex organism with a lifecycle spanning both humans and mosquitoes. After an infected mosquito bite, the P. vivax parasite can lie dormant in the liver (known as a hypnozoite) and periodically reactivate causing malaria relapses. Hence, a single P. vivax infection can give rise to multiple episodes of malaria, in the absence of a new mosquito bite. These relapses can occur weeks or even years after the initial infection.

P.vivax malaria has a significant public health and economic impact, primarily in South and South East Asia, Latin America and the horn of Africa. The disease is estimated to cause around 8.5 million clinical infections every year.[2] Each of these infections keeps a child or adult from school or work for at least 3 days.[3] Studies have shown that beyond lost time, malaria can also have adverse effects on cognitive ability.[4], [5]

About tafenoquine

Tafenoquine was first synthesised by scientists at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in 1978. GSK entered into a collaboration with MMV in 2008 to develop tafenoquine as an anti-relapse medicine for patients infected with P. vivax.  It is an investigational 8-aminoquinoline derivative with activity against the P. vivax lifecycle, including hypnozoites.

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