Prague, 9th October – MSD, known as Merck in the United States and Canada, proudly congratulates William C. Campbell, a retired scientist from the MSD Research Laboratories, MRL, who was jointly named the 2015 Nobel Prize winner in Physiology or Medicine with Satoshi Omura for the discovery of avermectin, which led to MSD’s development of Mectizan (ivermectin), a treatment for river blindness (also known as onchocerciasis) in Africa, Latin America and Yemen.
They will share the prize with Youyou Tu for her discoveries concerning a novel therapy against malaria.
River blindness is a parasitic infection that can cause intense itching, skin discoloration, rashes, and eye disease that often leads to permanent blindness. It is spread by the bites of infected black flies that breed in rapidly flowing rivers in the affected countries.
“We are particularly proud of our colleague Dr. Campbell whose innovation, passion and dedication to fighting diseases during his 30-year career at MSD enabled the development of Mectizan,” said Kenneth C. Frazier, chairman and chief executive officer, MSD. “Through our Mectizan Donation Program we have been working with partners for nearly three decades to make this medicine available, free of charge, to all those affected by river blindness. At MSD, we remain committed to bringing the best that our science and innovation have to offer to solve the world’s global health challenges.”
Established more than 25 years ago, the Mectizan Donation Program is the longest-running disease-specific drug donation program and public-private partnership of its kind. In 1998, MSD expanded the program to include the elimination of another disease, lymphatic – 2 – filariasis. The program reaches more than 250 million people in the affected areas annually, with more than 2 billion treatments donated since 1987.