THE PILL TASTES FAIRLY BITTER AND IS ALMOST A CENTIMETER LONG
No young child would want to swallow it. However, this is the only effective medicine against the parasitic worm infection schistosomiasis.
According to some estimates, more than 240 million people suffer from this disease, especially in the poor nations of Africa, South America, and Asia. Recent investigations have yielded even higher estimates of between 400 and 600 million sufferers. Approximately 280,000 people die annually from the long-term consequences of this disease.
Until a few years ago, it was not clearly known whether young children could contract schistosomiasis. As a result, not much attention was paid to developing a medicine suitable for them. However, extensive research done by Jutta Reinhard-Rupp, who heads the Global Health innovation platform at Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, got the ball rolling. Together with experts from the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, she discovered that young children could in fact contract this disease, but that it was in many cases misdiagnosed.