Institute for One World Health
“We need to match more orphan diseases with orphan drugs – drugs that already exist, but that no one is developing or producing. We can’t do it by ourselves. We need partners, pharmaceutical companies, governments, people to distribute the products, physicians who know how to treat patients. There are a lot of us that need to come together, but sometimes the first spark is the hope of a new medicine.”
Although there is great need, and great potential, for drugs to treat infectious diseases prevalent in the developing world, pharmaceutical research and development neglects these opportunities because customers are unable to pay. Thus infectious disease remains the leading cause of death in poor countries.
The Skoll Awardee: Working for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and as a pharmaceutical executive, Victoria Hale kept coming back to a haunting question: why, in the twenty first century, there could be treatments for any disease, any complaint, in one part of the world, while in others, babies still die of dehydrating diarrhea, and adults die of diseases that could be treated or cured, because those treatments were never developed and brought to market. In 2000 she founded the Institute for OneWorld Health, a nonprofit pharmaceutical company, to ensure that drugs for infectious diseases in the developing world get to the people who need them, regardless of their ability to pay. At the time of the Award, iOWH had completed clinical trials for Paromomycin IM, to treat visceral leishmaniasis, an often-fatal parasitic disease spread by sand flies, and a semisynthetic form of artemisinin , used to treat malaria, and was setting up manufacturing and marketing collaborations. Victoria has since left iOWH and founded a new nonprofit pharmaceutical company, Medicines360, focusing on unmet needs of the world’s women and children.
Impact since joining the portfolio in 2005:
• Regulatory approval granted for Paromomycin IM to treat visceral leishmaniasis and expansion of the treatment program from India to Bangladesh and Nepal.
• Pioneering use of synthetic biology to produce a reliable supply of artemesinin – a key component of malaria treatment – at an affordable price. Semisynthetid artemensinin (PMIM) registered with national drug development agencies of India, Nepal and Bangladesh and included on WHO Essential Medicines List.
SEE THEIR WORK IN ACTION: