Neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), a diverse group of communicable diseases common primarily in developing countries, cause substantial illness in more than one billion people worldwide.10 These diseases, including dengue, roundworm and hookworm, impact the poorest, most vulnerable people on the planet, and people living in poverty are the most affected. We continue to target resources to combat NTDs through R&D, product donations and partnerships. To facilitate additional research and breakthrough innovation in NTDs, Janssen shares 80,000 chemical compounds from its Jump-stARter molecular library with the global research community to help collaborators accelerate treatment and prevention of NTDs, along with TB, malaria, and other diseases common in the developing world.
Soil-transmitted helminthiasis (STH) is among the most common infections worldwide, affecting the most deprived communities. Approximately 1.5 billion people are infected worldwide, with children disproportionately at risk. According to the WHO, more than 800 million children live in endemic areas in need of treatment.11
As an original signatory of the 2012 London Declaration on Neglected Tropical Diseases, we have met our commitments of donating up to 200 million doses annually and developing a new chewable, child-friendly formulation of VERMOX (mebendazole) to treat STH. In 2018, we extended our existing donation commitment an additional five years to donate 200 million doses annually through 2025.
We also submitted a prequalification dossier to the WHO in 2018 for VERMOX CHEWABLE, a new formulation of mebendazole that can either be chewed or mixed with a small amount of water to form a soft mass that's easier for very young children to swallow. The dossier was prequalified by the WHO in April 2019, marking an important milestone in our efforts to combat STH infections in underserved regions around the world. The VERMOX CHEWABLE is available in limited quantities this year, and in 2020 will replace the current solid tablet in Johnson & Johnson’s donation program, which will enable us to reach one of the most vulnerable populations—children as young as one year of age—with this critical medicine.
We also work continuously with the WHO, Ministries of Health in endemic countries, and other partners to ensure medicines reach children in need. For more than a decade, Johnson & Johnson has been a lead contributor to Children Without Worms that supports STH initiatives. Additionally, we are leading STH research initiatives via partnerships with other industry, academia and NGO partners.
Through a Johnson & Johnson Foundation grant, we support the War on Worms campaign in partnership with University of the Philippines Manila to implement school-based, teacher-assisted deworming programs, coupled with improvements in water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) and health promotion, trained over 12,000 health workers and benefited more than two million children in the Philippines. The campaign also includes the donation of the deworming medicine VERMOX.
Dengue is a viral infection transmitted by mosquito, and one of the leading causes of hospitalization and death among children in Asia and Latin America. Worldwide prevalence is growing, with potential for an epidemic in many countries. The WHO listed dengue in the top 10 global health threats in 2019; today, more than 125 countries live in fear of the next epidemic.12
The aim of our dengue program is to develop a potent, first-in-class antiviral for the prevention of dengue, both for travelers to—and vulnerable populations living in—dengue-endemic areas.
In 2018, we reached a significant milestone as we entered the clinical development stage by starting a First in Human investigational small molecule inhibitor study in October. We are partnering in this initiative with the Wellcome Trust, a global charitable foundation, and the University of Leuven in Belgium for the development of antiviral medicines to fight dengue.