Unique collaboration provides packaging solution for AIDS drug

October 17, 2007 by PATH

Public-private partnership helps bring lifesaving antiretroviral medicine to mothers and children

PATH: Sue-Lane Wood, 206.788.2489, suelanewood@path.org
USAID: Chris Thomas, 202.712.1092, cthomas@usaid.gov

SEATTLE, October 17, 2007—The US Agency for International Development (USAID), PATH, and Boehringer Ingelheim have collaborated to offer a unique packaging solution for delivering the lifesaving HIV medicine nevirapine to children in developing countries. The nevirapine infant dose pouch, developed by PATH with funding from USAID under the HealthTech program, will now be included in Boehringer Ingelheim’s Viramune® Donations Program. The specially designed pouch protects an oral-dosing syringe filled with nevirapine—a drug that helps prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV by 50 percent when given to the HIV-positive mother and her infant soon after birth.

In 2000, Boehringer Ingelheim created a donation program, allowing eligible countries to receive the drug and oral-dosing syringes; however, achieving widespread use of nevirapine proved challenging due to the prevalence of births outside the health care system, required timing for the dose, and the limited reach of antenatal care. By including both the pouch and the lifesaving drug and syringe together, health care workers now have a simple, low-cost solution for providing nevirapine to expectant mothers to take home. By giving the medication to women to take home, they are given the power to help protect their babies against HIV, whether born at home or in a health facility.

"This donation is an important step to increasing access to the infant dose of nevirapine,” said Dr. Christopher J. Elias, president of PATH. “It clearly demonstrates that public-private partnerships can work together to help HIV-positive mothers give protective medication to their newborn children.”

In 2006, the pouch—which includes instructions for handling and administration—was introduced for limited use in a Kenyan pilot program. Positive feedback from health care workers and mothers led to national use of the pouch in Kenya, and Boehringer Ingelheim will begin introducing the pouch globally as part of its donation program.

"Investment in medical technology, high- or low-tech, is integral to USAID's ability to achieve its health and development objectives worldwide," said Dr. Kent R. Hill, assistant administrator for Global Health at USAID. "USAID has a long history of supporting the development of new health technologies. Over 20 years of USAID investment in the HealthTech program has led to the widespread use of innovative, affordable technologies in low-resource settings. HealthTech's successful development of the nevirapine infant-dose pouch and the inclusion of this pouch in the Viramune® Donation Program represent a continued global commitment to increased access to lifesaving medications.”