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Partnership between Fiocruz and Bayer strengthens the treatment of Chagas disease


Oswaldo Cruz Foundation


On World Chagas Disease Day (4/14), the Institute of Drug Technology (Farmanguinhos/Fiocruz) and the German multinational Bayer signed a Memorandum of Understanding at the Moorish Castle, the Foundation's headquarters, in Rio de Janeiro. The document establishes the basis for assessing a future cooperation agreement for the supply of the drug Nifurtimox to the Brazilian government, a significant step towards the treatment of the disease.

The signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between Fiocruz and Bayer took place in the Rare Works Hall of the Manguinhos Library (photo: Peter Ilicciev)

“We are very happy to take the first step, today, towards a partnership that could benefit patients with Chagas disease, expanding access to an important drug and strengthening the Unified Health System [SUS, the Brazilian public health system]”, celebrates the president of Fiocruz, Mario Moreira. The president, who is fulfilling an agenda outside the country, was represented by the vice president of Production and Innovation in Health, Marco Krieger. 

The vice president and Global Head of Market Access, Government Relations and Sustainability of the Pharmaceutical Division of Bayer, Claus Runge, says that the partnership, which has been developing for months, reinforces the company's commitment to sustainability in health throughout the world. "This is a moment of great happiness. This partnership meets one of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, strongly aligned with Bayer's global sustainability goals, focusing on and combating tropical diseases".

The drug, produced by Bayer, is recommended, according to the Clinical Protocol and Therapeutic Guidelines for Chagas Disease No. 397, of 2018, for the etiological treatment, in children and adolescents in the indeterminate chronic form and, in acute cases, for any age group, in situations where Benznidazole is not adequately tolerated. The obtaining of Nifurtimox is currently only possible through an agreement between the World Health Organization (WHO) and Bayer, with no direct supply to the country, which makes its acquisition difficult.

For the president of the Pharmaceutical Division of Bayer Latin America and Brazil, Adib Jacob, the patient must be at the center of every health action. “This partnership goes hand in hand with our purpose of bringing more health to the Brazilian population, and that is what we celebrate today. Far beyond producing innovations, it is necessary to guarantee and expand access to those who need them. And this is the first step of an important partnership to complement the fight against Chagas disease”, adds the Executive.

For the director of Farmanguinhos, Jorge Mendonça, the signing of the document represents a step forward in tackling this serious public health problem in the country. “We are assessing the possibilities for a future cooperation agreement between the institutions in order to provide Nifurtimox in Brazil in a more agile way to make it available according to the needs of patients with Chagas disease. Thus, in addition to benefiting society, we strengthen the Health Economic-Industrial Complex”, says Mendonça. As an official laboratory of the Ministry of Health (MS), Farmanguinhos' mission is to offer integrated and sustainable solutions for the Unified Health System (SUS).

World Chagas Disease Day

The date for the signing of the document has symbolic characteristics. April 14 was declared by WHO, in 2019, as World Chagas Disease Day, a strategy to raise awareness of this neglected disease. The affirmation of a possible partnership appears, therefore, as a way of bringing greater visibility to the theme.

It is estimated that there are 1 million people affected by the disease in Brazil, according to the 2021 Chagas Epidemiological Bulletin of the Ministry of Health. This portion of the population is among the poorest that lacks even a correct diagnosis of the disease. That is, alien to the possibilities of existing treatments.

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