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Johnson & Johnson tackles intestinal worms

By Vicky Wandawa

Added 26th July 2019 07:45 AM

Also known as soil-transmitted helminths (STH), intestinal worms are considered the most widespread of neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) and have a particularly damaging impact on the health and development of children.

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Also known as soil-transmitted helminths (STH), intestinal worms are considered the most widespread of neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) and have a particularly damaging impact on the health and development of children.

HEALTH

Johnson & Johnson on Wednesday announced that it is extending through 2025 global product donations of an intestinal worms treatment made by its Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies.

The new five-year expanded commitment will ensure that one billion doses of VERMOX® CHEWABLE (mebendazole chewable 500mg tablets) are provided in the 2021-2025 period to high-burden countries via donations to the World Health Organization (WHO), which manages and coordinates country requests for this valuable medicine.

Also known as soil-transmitted helminths (STH), intestinal worms are considered the most widespread of neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) and have a particularly damaging impact on the health and development of children.

Sabrina Kitaka, a pediatrician with Mulago hospital defines intestinal worms or parasitic worms are simple organisms that feed off the human body. “Intestinal worms can cause many symptoms in the body, some of which are similar to the symptoms of other gut disorders,” she says.

Doctors may use anti-parasitic medications or other treatments to help get rid of worms.

“Although intestinal worms may seem scary, most people respond well to treatment. Routine deworming typically starts at two years and is annual but immunosuppressed people are dewormed six-monthly,” she says.

Kitaka says that Uganda currently has a national deworming policy and children are dewormed twice a year during the child days plus.

According to Paul Stoffels, Vice Chairman of the Executive Committee and Chief Scientific Officer, Johnson & Johnson, intestinal worms are a particularly damaging condition for children.

“They can lead to malnutrition, which can impair cognitive development and limit children’s ability to learn, grow, and prosper. We’re proud to continue this program so that children in the world’s poorest countries can achieve their full potential and thrive,” he warns.

The new pediatric VERMOX CHEWABLE formulation was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2016 and received prequalification from the WHO in April 2019. Janssen Pharmaceutica N.V., part of the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson, developed the formulation, which can either be chewed, or mixed with a small amount of water to form a soft mass that is easier for very young children to safely ingest.

According to a report on Uganda: Prevalence, intensity and factors associated with soil-transmitted helminths infections among preschool-age children in Hoima district, rural western Uganda, the prevalence and intensity of infection are highest among children 4–15 years of age.

Globally, approximately 1.5 billion people—nearly 20% of the world’s population—are infected with intestinal worms, also called soil-transmitted helminths (STH). STH is transmitted by eggs present in human feces, which can contaminate the soil in areas where sanitation is poor. Nearly 270 million preschool-age children and nearly 570 million school-age children live in endemic areas and are in need of public health interventions such as preventive chemotherapy (such as VERMOX), sanitation, and safe water. The most common species that affect people are roundworm, whipworm, and hookworm.

This year, VERMOX CHEWABLE is being integrated into the donation program operated by the WHO, and the first large-scale shipments are being delivered. In 2020, the program will fully transition from the existing solid tablet to the new pediatric formulation. The chewable tablet will only be available via the donation program and there are no plans to make it commercially available. To date, the program has delivered more than 1.4 billion doses of VERMOX to approximately 800 million children and forms a critical part of our Health for Humanity goals.

 

 

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