The Lilly MDR-TB Partnership was created in 2003 to address the challenge of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB). The Partnership is a public-private initiative of the pharmaceutical company, Eli Lilly and Company. It mobilises over 20 partners on five continents to battle MDR-TB.
Today, the Partnership's activities cover more than 80 countries, with a specific focus on the four countries where MDR-TB is at its worst: China, India, South Africa and Russia.
Lilly is contributing $120 million in cash, as well as medicines and technology, in order to fight MDR-TB, and has also donated an additional $15 million to the Lilly TB Drug Discovery Initiative to accelerate the discovery of new drugs to treat tuberculosis (TB).
As MDR-TB is highly contagious and difficult to treat, only a 360°, holistic approach will produce results.
Meaningful changes must occur in the communities where MDR-TB patients live and work. For this reason, community-level programmes have been created to ensure that patients complete the entire course of treatment correctly. In addition, the Partnership provides a number of activities to empower patients by eliminating the stigma of the disease in communities and workplaces.
The Partnership's work includes training programmes to educate employers and employees on how to identify and treat MDR-TB; creation of a website to assist and support patients worldwide; and awareness and anti-stigma campaigns focused on community outreach and psychological support. These have been implemented in many countries.
The partnership also trains healthcare workers to recognise, treat, monitor and prevent the further spread of MDR-TB. Training materials and courses have been created for nurses, doctors and hospital managers; and many of the courses are designed to ensure that the knowledge learned is passed on to peers.
Wider and longer-lasting change requires a more global view of the disease. The partnership works with policymakers to support new thinking to curb the spread of MDR-TB.
In addition, it is committed to the appropriate use of medicines in line with World Health Organization (WHO) standards of treatment, and fully supports the WHO's directly observed treatment, short-course (DOTS) programme, which places patients under the supervision of a healthcare worker to ensure appropriate and complete treatment.
A primary partnership goal is to increase the supply of high-quality, affordable medicines to the people who need them most, by transferring the technology required to manufacture MDR-TB drugs to manufacturing partners in the four highest-infected countries.
Lilly provides manufacturing know-how, as well as financial assistance to purchase the necessary equipment. This enables MDR-TB patients to gain access to medicines at lower prices, supports local economies and ensures high-quality manufacturing.
The treatment of MDR-TB is long and intensive, and requires isolation from family and friends. For this reason, many people fail to complete treatment, giving rise to more resistant strains of TB. To encourage compliance, newer, faster-acting medicines are needed.
To fill this need, Lilly and its partners support a new, non-profit research facility in Seattle, US, that will draw upon global resources for pioneering research. This new charity will scour millions of molecules in medicinal libraries donated by Lilly and another manufacturer, to identify promising molecules.
Lilly's partners include world leaders in healthcare: Akorn (US); Aspen Pharmacare (South Africa); the International Council of Nurses; the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies; the International Hospital Federation; Harvard Medical School & Partners in Health; Hisun Pharmaceutical (China); the Global Business Coalition; Global Health Advocates; Purdue University (US); RESULTS Educational Fund; Shasun Chemicals and Drugs (India); SIA International (Russia); the Stop TB Partnership; TB Alert; the TB Survival Project; the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention; Vianex (Greece); the World Economic Forum; the WHO; and the World Medical Association.