Oct. 7, 2011, 11:21 a.m.
Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) has called on the Brazilian government "to ensure its state-owned drug company steps up production of the only drug for Chagas disease, which affects 10 million people in Latin America," Guardian Health Editor Sarah Boseley writes in her "Global Health Blog" (10/6). "Thousands of people with Chagas disease will go untreated in coming months due to a shortage of benznidazole, the first-line drug used in most endemic countries," according to a MSF press release and a related article published by the organization. According to the press release, MSF has stopped diagnosing Chagas in Paraguay and has suspended new projects in endemic areas of Bolivia due to the shortage (10/5).
"There is only one pharmaceutical company in the world making benznidazole and only one supplier of the active ingredient -- and they are in Brazil," where the ministry of health "effectively took over responsibility for the production of this drug from the Big Pharma company, the Swiss firm Roche, that no longer found it profitable to make," the blog writes. "But the state-owned pharmaceutical company Lafepe and the private chemical company Nortec Quimica have not managed to get sufficient quantities of the drug rolling off the production line -- and demand is increasing, because adults are now being treated as well as children," according to the blog (10/6).