WHO European Region continues struggle with measles spread

    WHO Europe said that Member States in the WHO European Region “continue to struggle with the uninterrupted spread of measles, reporting more than 26,000 confirmed cases in the first seven months of 2011, representing a 276% increase from a comparable period in 2007. Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO Regional Director for Europe, said, “We call on countries to respond to this Region-wide epidemic. The Region has set the goal of eliminating measles by 2015, but these outbreaks pose a serious threat to that goal. Measles is not the harmless infection that some people seem to believe it is, and where we can prevent illness and death, we must do so.” From January to July 2011, 40 of the 53 countries in the Region reported 26,025 measles cases, with the largest burden falling on western Europe. Nevertheless, WHO said that the actual number of cases is estimated to be higher, due to delays in reporting and to underreporting. Measles has led to 9 deaths in the Region this year, 7 of them in people over ten years old. The predominant genotype circulating in the European Region is D4, which has been endemic in some countries since 2008.


UNICEF: measles vaccination campaign – Somalia

UNICEF and partners said that one hundred days since famine was declared in parts of southern Somalia, they “are doing their utmost to prevent a second and potentially more devastating wave of deaths from disease against a background of conflict.” In Mogadishu, a UNICEF and WHO-supported measles vaccination campaign began this week for 750,000 children between six months and 15 years old. Since the declaration of famine in July, more than 1 million children have been vaccinated against measles in Somalia.

WIPO and BVGH announce new IP initiative for NTDs, malaria, TB

     The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and BIO Ventures for Global Health (BVGH) announced WIPO Re:Search – “an (unprecedented) new consortium where public and private sector organizations share valuable intellectual property (IP) and expertise with the global health research community to promote development of new drugs, vaccines, and diagnostics to treat neglected tropical diseases, malaria, and tuberculosis.” WIPO Director General Francis Gurry commented, “WIPO Re:Search is a ground breaking example of how a multi-stakeholder coalition can put IP to work for social benefit. By joining WIPO Re:Search, companies and researchers commit to making selected intellectual property assets available under royalty-free licenses to qualified researchers anywhere in the world for research and development on neglected tropical diseases, malaria, and tuberculosis. This commitment should accelerate the development of medicines, vaccines, and diagnostics for these diseases.”

WIPO Re:Search involves the following organizations at launch: Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, AstraZeneca, Eisai, GlaxoSmithKline, Merck/MSD, Novartis, Pfizer,    Sanofi, NIH, California Institute of Technology, Center for World Health & Medicine,     Drugs for Neglected Diseases, Fundação Oswaldo Cruz (Fiocruz), Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Medicines for Malaria Venture, PATH, South African Medical Research Council, Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, University of California, Berkeley, and University of Dundee (UK). Membership in WIPO Re:Search as “a user, provider, or supporter is open to all organizations that endorse, adhere to, and support the project’s Guiding Principles.” These Guiding Principles include the commitment that IP licensed via WIPO Re:Search will be licensed on a royalty-free basis for research and development on neglected tropical diseases in any country and on a royalty-free basis for sale of neglected tropical disease medicines in, or to, least developed countries.

The WIPO Re:Search database includes “a wide variety of contributions relevant to malaria, tuberculosis, and other neglected tropical diseases, including individual compounds and associated data, screening hits from compound libraries, and expertise and know-how in pharmaceutical research and development. In addition, WIPO Re:Search offers the opportunity for neglected tropical disease researchers to work directly with scientists at pharmaceutical companies to advance R&D on these diseases.”


Commonwealth leaders nnounce new funding for global fight against polio

The Gates Foundation announced that Commonwealth leaders gathered in Perth, Australia to announce new funding for the global fight against polio ahead of this year’s bi-annual Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting. The Australian government announced a commitment of AUS$50 million to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI). The Nigerian government pledged an increase from 2011 of a planned US$17 million to an annual contribution of US$30 million starting in 2012. The Gates Foundation pledged an additional US$40 million to GPEI for the remainder of 2011.


ACIP votes new HPV vaccine recommendations

    Merck/MSD announced that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) voted to recommend that boys 11 to 12 years old be vaccinated routinely with GARDASIL [Human Papillomavirus Quadrivalent (Types 6, 11, 16 and 18) Vaccine, Recombinant] to help prevent anal cancer caused by human papillomavirus (HPV) types 16 and 18, anal dysplasias and precancerous lesions caused by HPV types 6, 11, 16 and 18, and genital warts caused by HPV types 6 and 11. Additionally, the Committee recommended that GARDASIL be administered to males 13 to 21 years of age who have not previously been vaccinated or have not completed the three-dose series, and that the vaccination series can be started at age 9 years at the discretion of their physicians. Mark Feinberg, M.D., Ph.D., chief public health and science officer, Merck Vaccines, said, “Today’s ACIP recommendations will help to provide greater access to GARDASIL for males. These new recommendations for use in males mark another important step in helping to protect more people from the HPV-related cancers and disease that GARDASIL is indicated to prevent.”


European Commission approves Prevenar 13 for adults aged 50 years and older

Pfizer announced that the European Commission has approved Prevenar 13 (pneumococcal polysaccharide conjugate vaccine [13-valent, adsorbed]) for active immunization for the prevention of vaccine-type invasive disease ococcus pneumoniae in adults aged 50 years and older. Emilio Emini, Ph.D., chief scientific officer, Vaccine Research, Pfizer Inc., said, “Prevenar 13, the first and only pneumococcal conjugate vaccine approved by the European Commission for use in adults, has the potential to prevent invasive pneumococcal disease in adults aged 50 and older – a time of life when the risk for contracting the disease begins to increase. It is important that older adults talk to their health care provider about pneumococcal disease prevention and Prevenar 13 as part of a plan for healthy aging.” http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20111027005499/en/Pfizer-Receives-European-Approval-Extend-Prevenar-13