TITUSVILLE, New Jersey- Johnson & Johnson, the United States based health care industry giant, announced last week the formation of a new group devoted to pursuing research and development projects targeting global health needs. Janssen Global Public Health (Janssen GPH) will unify the innovative activities of Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen pharmaceutical companies under one single-minded entity.
Dr. Paul Stoffels, Chief Scientific Officer of Johnson & Johnson and Worldwide Chairman of Janssen, ensures Janssen GPH will succeed in “advancing a sustainable platform that will make a significant impact” in the developing world.
Johnson & Johnson has long been a leader in responding to global health challenges, including improving maternal and child health, promoting preventative measures for infectious disease control and improving access to critical vaccines.
Janssen GPH will be in good hands under the leadership of Johnson & Johnson executives Dr. Wim Parys, Vice President of R&D Global Public Health, and Dr. Adrian Thomas, Vice President of Global Market Access, Global Strategy Operations and Global Public Health. Product development, innovation and access strategy will be focal points of Janssen GPH activities in resource-limited regions.
Janssen pharmaceuticals to complement Janssen GPH’s portfolio include a number of high-potential drugs with vast potential for change in the global health space.
- Sirturo (bedaquiline) earned FDA approval in December 2012 for treatment of multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) in adults and has since been approved by Russia’s regulatory agency as well. Sirturo employs a novel mechanism of action to combat the energy production of the bacterium that causes tuberculosis infection and is currently subject to interim guidance from the World Health Organization.
- Reformulated mebendazole is a chewable version of a treatment for intestinal worms that has been administered via a solid tablet to children over 5 years old. The reworked treatment would provide the same protection against roundworm, hookworm, pinworm and other parasites to younger children in a more palatable form. Janssen has committed 200 million doses to tens of countries annually through 2020.
- Janssen’s data-sharing agreement with the Drugs for Neglected Disease Initiative pursues a similar reformulation of a new treatment against parasites, flubendazole. The drug targets parasites causing two of the worlds deadliest tropical diseases, elephantiasis and river blindness.
- Janssen GPH will continue its partnership with the International Partnership for Microbicides in developing HIV preventative measures for women in developing countries. An investigational HIV medicine, dapivirine, may soon be applied as a monthly vaginal microbicidal ring to prevent HIV transmission during intercourse. Results of clinical trials in various African countries will be released in 2015.
Not only will Janssen GPH pursue improved technologies and full approval of treatments for neglected diseases, but the group will also address pricing issues and inequalities in access to health care in limited markets, both of which currently fall under the umbrella of Janssen’s Global Access and Partnerships Program.
Johnson & Johnson appears to be taking critical steps forward in creating sustainable solutions for the developing world and going the extra mile to provide specific interventions that are “appropriate for local contexts.” Janssen GPH is a promising beginning to a tale of corporate social responsibility in global health.
– Casey Ernstes
Sources: Medline Plus, The Pharma Letter, Sirturo, Wall Street Journal, World Health Organization
Photo: Johnson & Johnson Annual Report