Novartis launches new strategy to eradicate leprosy

The Novartis Foundation for Sustainable Development announced a new strategy to eradicate leprosy once and for all on Friday at a symposium on disease elimination.

The new strategy was developed by a group of leading experts on disease elimination. It involves decreasing the rate of leprosy transmission through early diagnosis and treatment drugs, access to diagnostic tools and ensuring prompt response and treatment for all infected persons.

"As part of our pledge to fight neglected diseases in the developing world, Novartis and the Novartis Foundation for Sustainable Development are committed to going the last mile to help make leprosy history," Novartis CEO Joseph Jimenez said. "This devastating disease is curable and I am proud that our donation of multidrug therapy has helped treat over 5 million patients since 2000."

Novartis said that diseases are the most difficult to eliminate during the final stretch. MDT has decreased the leprosy prevalence by 95 percent, but the last five percent persists.

"Zero transmission of leprosy is achievable, but we need to be better equipped and use innovative approaches if we are to find and treat the last patients," Head of the Novartis Foundation Anna Aerts said. "In collaboration with our partners, we want to play a key role in curbing the incidence of leprosy."