MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 26, 2016

Pfizer and Carter celebrate 15th anniversary of ITA

Pfizer, Inc., announced on Tuesday that it joined former U.S. President Jimmy Carter to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the International Trachoma Initiative, a program dedicated to eliminating blinding trachoma.

Trachoma is an infectious eye disease that is a leading cause of blindness in some of the world's poorest regions. Pfizer donated hundreds of millions of doses of Zithromax, an antibiotic, in an effort to try to wipe out blinding trachoma by the year 2020.

"The Pfizer donation of Zithromax was momentous in trachoma control, and The Carter Center was pleased to go to scale in trachoma endemic countries to get the medicine into the villages and demonstrate the world could end blinding trachoma," Carter said. "The progress and success of the trachoma campaign is something every Pfizer colleague can be proud of. Through the 15-year partnership, millions of people worldwide will be spared the injustice, indignity and pain of their eyelashes scratching and scarring their eyes."

Through the IIT, Pfizer donated more than 340 million doses of the antibiotic to prevent and treat trachoma in support of the World Health Organization-led Global Alliance for the Elimination of Trachoma.

"ITI has managed the distribution of the antibiotic to 28 countries in Africa and Asia since 1998," Mark Rosenberg, the interim director of ITI, said. "Trachoma brings extraordinary human suffering and economic devastation to tens of millions of people, mostly women and children in poorer countries. It can be prevented, treated and eliminated."

Trachoma was eliminated from the U.S. in the 1970s, but the condition remains in the world's most neglected and isolated communities. Approximately 320 million worldwide are at risk for contracting trachoma. Trachoma blinds one person every 15 minutes.

"We are honored to have President Carter join Pfizer to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the ITI program and gratified about the progress that has been made toward eliminating blinding trachoma as a public health concern," Ian Read, the chairman and CEO of Pfizer, said. "Pfizer joins President Carter and others in envisioning a world where blinding trachoma has been eliminated. I speak for the entire Pfizer community in reiterating our desire, along with partners like The Carter Center and ITI, to helping end the suffering by 2020."