Moxidectin is currently sold as a treatment for parasitic worm and mite infections in animals. The World Health Organization (WHO) co-sponsored the development of moxidectin for human use with Wyeth/Pfizer and they have completed clinical trials showing that moxidectin is an important new drug for treating river blindness. River blindness is a ‘neglected tropical disease’ (NTD) found principally in sub-Saharan Africa that causes severe skin reactions and can lead to blindness. Australian social enterprise Medicines Development for Global Health secured the rights for moxidectin from WHO.
The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has instituted a novel reward scheme for registration of new treatments for designated NTDs in the form of a ‘priority review voucher’ (PRV). The PRV entitles its holder to obtain a priority review for human drug applications submitted to the FDA, reducing the review time by approximately 4 months, and can be traded or sold. In May 2015, the most recently sold PRV was valued at US$245 million. Preparing the submission for registration of a new drug is a detailed and highly rigorous process. Medicines Development for Global Health commenced this process for moxidectin following an investment from the Global Health Investment Fund (GHIF).
If moxidectin is successfully registered, the PRV is awarded and a successful sale achieved, Medicines Development for Global Health will use some of these proceeds of the PRV to deliver moxidectin for river blindness on a cost recovery basis, explore broader application of the drug and establish itself as a sustainable global health biotechnology company.