Date: 2017-04-18

Type of information: Collaboration agreement


Company: Merck KGaA (Germany) Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine (Australia) Baylor College of Medicine (USA - TX)

Therapeutic area: Parasitic diseases

Type agreement: collaboration

Action mechanism:

Disease: schistosomiasis


  • • On April 18, 2017, Merck KGaA announced it has formed a public-private partnership for the next three years with the Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine (James Cook University, Queensland) and Baylor College of Medicine (Texas, USA) to strengthen the current work on diagnostic development in schistosomiasis. This furthers Merck’s commitment to support the fight against the worm disease, the cornerstone of which effort is the Praziquantel Donation Program. However schistosomiasis elimination need additional innovative tools. Therefore, Merck KGaA has additionally recently committed to create a Merck Global Health Institute with the goal to deliver integrated health solutions for vulnerable populations in the developing world suffering from infectious diseases, including schistosomiasis, malaria and bacterial infections. The public-private partnership is part of this initiative.
  • The Merck Global Health Institute’s current portfolio includes, among others, the development of a pediatric formulation of praziquantel via a consortium to treat children younger than 6 years old, the screening of Merck’s compound library through a dedicated schistosomiasis drug discovery platform, and the development of innovative schistosomiasis diagnostics in association with the current efforts of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
  • The partnership attracted support from Austrade, the Australian Government’s investment promotion agency, which provided funding to the Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine (AITHM) under the Australian Tropical Medicine Commercialization Grants Program to support the three-way collaboration. Through the public-private partnership, Merck KGaA intends to identify new schistosomiasis biomarkers in order to develop new diagnostics essential to determine all schistosomiasis patients in need of treatment to reach its elimination agenda. Merck  KGaA will co-invest 200,000 $AUD per year for the duration of the partnership.
  • The Merck Praziquantel Donation Program has been initiated in cooperation with WHO back in 2007. Since then,more than 500 million tablets have been donated and over 100 million patients treated, mainly school children. Each year Merck KGaA is donating up to 250 million tablets to WHO. The planned annual donation has a value of around US$ 28 million. To date, the tablets are only suitable for children older than six. At the end of 2014, Merck KGaA founded the Global Schistosomiasis Alliance together with partners such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the U.S. development agency USAID, the Schistosomiasis Control Initiative (SCI) and World Vision International.

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