River blindness is a debilitating disease that threatens the health and livelihood of more than 100 million people in parts of Africa, Latin America and the Middle East. Since 1987, Merck has donated more than 2.5 billion tablets of MECTIZAN® (ivermectin) in more than 30 countries worldwide, helping bring a formerly common affliction in those countries closer to elimination.
In fact, the World Health Organization recently published results of a study proving for the first time that the elimination of river blindness with treatment of MECTIZAN® is now possible in some endemic areas in Africa.
Transmitted through the bite of black flies, river blindness causes intense itching and painful skin lesions, and it can eventually lead to the permanent loss of sight. With just a single annual dose, MECTIZAN® helps relieve symptoms and halts the progression toward blindness.
Today, the MECTIZAN® Donation Program reaches more than 80 million people every year. And with our renewed commitment to eliminate river blindness as a public health problem globally, we expect that number to increase to 100 million people by 2010.
The MECTIZAN® Donation Program works through a unique public/private partnership that involves:
Now, more than two decades since its inception, the worldwide campaign against river blindness is now widely recognized as one of the most successful public/private health partnerships in the world.
In more than 30 countries outside the United States, Merck is committed to putting an end to one of the world's leading causes of preventable blindness.