SMC drug research and development

Photo: Novartis

Despite the effectiveness of SMC, there are barriers that limit its use in all areas with highly seasonal malaria transmission across sub-Saharan Africa.

There are regions in the seasonal malaria zone, south of the equator (a band from Angola to Mozambique), that have seasonal transmission of malaria comparable to that of the Sahel. However, sulfadoxine pyrimethamine (SP) resistance markers in these areas are amongst the worst in Africa. The current drug option for SMC (sulfadoxine pyrimethamine together with amodiaquine (SPAQ)) will therefore be ineffective in these areas.

The development of an effective combination of medicines for SMC in southern and eastern Africa would, in this situation, be beneficial as it will protect the lives of millions of children and prevent the death of tens of thousands in the region, each year.

If a new, affordable, palatable, well-tolerated and highly effective SMC option for this region were to be developed, the number of children under five years of age protected annually with SMC could double.1 Thus, new products are critically needed to allow for the geographical expansion of SMC.

Over the last few years, Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV) has spearheaded scientific and stakeholder input regarding the desired attributes of the next-generation SMC drugs, which will serve as alternatives to SPAQ.