The Novartis Foundation Leprosy Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (LPEP) program has won the eyeforpharma Most Valuable Collaboration Award for 2019. The awards, presented at the eyeforpharma conference in Barcelona in March 2019, recognized LPEP for its innovative efforts to accelerate leprosy elimination. The annual ceremony celebrates positive progress towards value for patients and customers, and recognizes those in the pharmaceutical industry who are driving pharma forwards.
LPEP - the global game-changer in leprosy elimination
The LPEP program aims to decrease leprosy transmission by providing preventative treatment to family and friends of newly diagnosed patients.
Erwin Cooreman, Team Leader in the World Health Organization Global Leprosy Programme, said the development and implementation of the program “demonstrates the true potential of a united leprosy community on the lives of patients”. “By bringing together a variety of experiences and sectors, we can accelerate our efforts towards a leprosy-free world,” he said.
Global collaboration is essential to accelerate efforts towards ending leprosy. Over the past five years, LPEP has brought multi-country and multi-sector partners together for the first time to put prevention at the heart of leprosy programs. This global network, including nine international partners and eight national leprosy programs, has been committed to sharing knowledge and coordinating efforts to reduce leprosy risk.
The LPEP success has led to a significant policy change, with the World Health Organization including the strategy in its global guidelines on leprosy prevention and treatment – a step towards national leprosy programs taking up similar reforms.
“The award serves as recognition from our peers in pharma, for our long-term, continued commitment to reimagining leprosy elimination. It recognizes that LPEP’s new approach to tackle this ancient disease is a cornerstone to accelerating our way towards zero leprosy”, said Ann Aerts, Head of the Novartis Foundation.
“The common vision is zero leprosy. We need to accelerate progress in the fight against this ancient disease by aligning the leprosy community behind a common goal to halt the further spread of leprosy.”
Vas Narasimhan, M.D., CEO of Novartis; Member of the Novartis Foundation Board of Trustees
The Leprosy Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (LPEP) program provides preventative treatment to close contacts of newly diagnosed patients – such as family members or friends – among whom are those most at risk. LPEP is implemented to answer key questions of contact tracing and administration of preventative treatment, feasibility and impact across various healthcare systems in Asia, Africa and South America. Launched in 2014, LPEP is now operational in Brazil, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Nepal, Myanmar, Tanzania and Sri Lanka. LPEP has been included in the Operational Manual in the revised World Health Organization (WHO) Global Leprosy Strategy for 2016–2020.
Leprosy is one of the oldest diseases known to man, but today an estimated 2-3 million people are still living with physical disability and stigmatization as a result of the disease. The disease often occurs in hard-to-reach communities with poor access to healthcare and where untreated patients continue to spread the infection. For the past decade, more than 200,000 people have been newly diagnosed with the disease every year – including thousands of children. This lack of progress partly results from dwindling attention from health services and a decrease in political will, funding and the absence of new tools to fight the disease. It demonstrates the urgent need for the global health community to join forces and unite our efforts to interrupt further spread of the disease.