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DNDi's Launch of ASMQ Organised in Rio de Janeiro's Legendary Fiocruz Tropical Castle
Carolina Larriera,
Head of Regional Office

The Regional Support Office carried out a set of activities in the first half of 2008 covering fundraising in the private and public sectors and dissemination of DNDi's role. These were carried out mainly through DNDi's participation in the Congress of Brazilian Society of Tropical Medicine (SBMT) that took place in Porto Alegre on 4-7 March 2008.
Yet, the main focus centred around communication and organisational activities linked to the launch of ASMQ and the related Scientific Symposium as mentioned hereafter. Within this framework, DNDi has played a major role in triggering the interest of the media at local, national, and international levels. As a result, ASMQ received a fairly good coverage. This was accentuated by the fact that it coincided within a week of Malaria Day.

At the Fiocruz' Museu da Vida in Rio de Janeiro from 17-18 April, the official launch of ASMQ took place amid a scientific symposium entitled "Implementation of Artemisinin Combination Therapies (ACTs): Role of ASMQ". More than 70 Brazilian specialists, Latin American malaria experts, and other members of the local scientific community and media were among the audience. The main topic of discussion was linked to current status of implementation and R&D of ACTs, the development of ASMQ combination, the related clinical trials worldwide in Thailand, the Brazilian state of Acre, Peru, and a wholesome brief on the African perspective. The meeting wrapped up with a discussion panel of experts from the region, including Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru.
During the official launch ceremony of ASMQ, Paulo Buss, director of Fiocruz, hailed this momentum as a "triumph of partnership that I witnessed being born only a short five years ago." He emphasised, "This blue pill is the reason for great hope." Jose de Brito Ladislau, Brazil's Ministry of Health representative, stated that "patient compliance with the previous treatment was difficult because of the 19 pills that the patient was administered with a taste that patients disliked. With ASMQ the patient only needs to take six tablets. To date, no collateral effects have been registered." Bernard Pecoul, DNDi's Executive Director stated, "It is an opportunity not only to cheer a new public good at cost, but to celebrate the international partnership which saw this innovative product and treatment become a concrete reality." Carlos Morel, Fiocruz's CDTS Director and DNDi's Board Member, along with other speakers, also commended the leading role of research institutes around the world, such as the Shoklo Malaria Unit in Thailand, who have been at the heart of this rewarding result.
Experts were also invited to visit the premises of Farmanguinhos, in Jacarépagua, Rio de Janeiro. This new industrial plant was acquired and refurbished in 2004, with added space, and once fully operational, should produce 10 billion pharmaceutical units yearly. This new site is where ASMQ underwent its final processing stages and from where it will have a local and regional outreach.

Published by Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative - 15 Chemin Louis-Dunant 1202 Geneva Switzerland - Photo credits: DNDi unless otherwise stated - Editor: Sadia Kaenzig - Tel: +41 22 906 9230 - Fax: +41 22 906 9231 -