The Global Program to Eliminate LF has already become the most rapidly scaled-up drug administration program in public health history, and is on track to becoming the largest such program in history. The study found that since drug administrations began in 2000, the program has administered more than 1.9 billion treatments to over 570 million people in 48 of the 83 countries with endemic LF.
The LF elimination treatment program utilizes a combination of two anti-parasitic drugs, administered once yearly to everyone in an at-risk area. When given for a minimum of five consecutive years, these drugs can effectively stop transmission of LF. The drugs used to eliminate LF are the same medications used to treat a number of intestinal worms and parasitic skin diseases, which infect hundreds of millions of people in developing countries and are major contributors to malnutrition, disability, delayed development, and problems during pregnancy.
"The benefits of this program go far beyond simply preventing LF infections," said Dr. Eric A. Ottesen, MD, Director of the Atlanta Lymphatic Filariasis Support Center and lead author of the paper. "Because of the LF program, at least 56.6 million children and 44.5 million women of childbearing age have been treated for intestinal worms, most multiple times. The drugs have also treated millions more in Africa for skin diseases."
These data help the PLoS paper confirm what some public health officials have long asserted: that the LF program is the 'best buy' in public health, providing benefits that far outweigh its costs. The total cost per patient over the first eight years of the program is estimated to be less than US $0.50. This low cost is made possible in part by the donation of albendazole and Mectizan(R) from the program's two key pharmaceutical partners GlaxoSmithKline and Merck & Co., Inc.
The cost-efficiency combined with the prog
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