Lyon, France – February 11, 2014 – Sanofi Pasteur, the vaccines division of Sanofi (EURONEXT: SAN and NYSE: SNY), said today that the global business community must now help win the global battle against polio because India has brought the world so close to victory. According to the CEO of a large vaccine research, development and manufacturing company, Olivier Charmeil: “This is a once in a generation opportunity – maybe once in a lifetime. It is now up to all of us to collectively build on India’s vast achievement. None of us would dare tell our grandchildren that we allowed polio to escape after it had been cornered and almost eliminated.”
Olivier Charmeil wrote today to the directors of Rotary International to congratulate both the country and the members of the community service organization on their role in supporting the Indian government’s “monumental achievement in making India polio free.” The World Health Organization has described Rotary’s role as inspirational. Olivier Charmeil said that business leaders had joined international organizations such as UNICEF and WHO in backing India’s commitment to become polio free. “I think your example shows us what multidisciplinary, public-private partnerships can achieve,” he wrote. “I am proud that we have been a long term partner of Rotary International.”
President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee, celebrated today three years without a case of polio in India, in the presence of World Health Organization Director General, Margaret Chan at an event in New Delhi attended by the Prime Minister of India, Dr Manmohan Singh and by other dignitaries. The last case of polio in India was reported in the state of West Bengal on the 13th of January, 2011.
Globally, Sanofi Pasteur provides more injectable and oral polio vaccines than any other company in the world, and has developed the technologies and production capabilities that make inactivated polio vaccines (IPV) affordable. These IPV vaccines are an essential part of the future path to a polio-free world. Sanofi Pasteur has been a longstanding partner to governments across the world by developing, manufacturing and supplying different vaccine solutions towards polio control.
India was the biggest of four remaining polio endemic countries and, many thought, was going to prove the biggest challenge in the effort to eradicate polio globally. The polio virus found in nature is still frequently transmitted from person to person in some areas of three countries. There are occasional outbreaks in other countries but they are all linked back to transmission from one of these three countries. There are also occasional cases of transmission of polio-like illness linked to the oral polio vaccine still used in many lower-income countries. In the current transition phase, OPV remains the best way to maintain control of the disease in countries such as India, through massive vaccination campaigns. However, because this vaccine contains a very weakened form of the live polio virus, a global plan calls for it to be progressively replaced with inactivated, injectable vaccine as the world moves into the final stages of polio eradication and plans for a future in which the polio virus is completely absent.
Early in 2013, the Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on immunization (SAGE) recommended that every country introduce at least one dose of injectable inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) in routine polio immunization programs by end 2015, as part of the “Polio Endgame Strategic Plan”.
Sanofi Pasteur, as a leader in providing both OPV and IPV, has been a longstanding partner of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) and WHO for over 20 years. In 2013, Sanofi Pasteur announced its commitment to provide 1.7 billion doses of OPV through 2017 to support the GPEI’s polio vaccination program. Sanofi Pasteur is also a leading supplier of IPV. In 1982, Sanofi Pasteur registered the first enhanced-potency inactivated polio vaccine, which is now distributed globally as a stand-alone poliovirus vaccine as well as in combination pediatric vaccines to immunize against many diseases in a single shot. Since then, Sanofi Pasteur has provided more than 800 million doses of IPV and IPV-containing vaccines.
According to the WHO, Polio (poliomyelitis) mainly affects children under five years of age. One in 200 infections leads to irreversible paralysis. Among those paralyzed, five to 10 percent die when their breathing muscles become immobilized.
Polio cases have decreased by over 99% since 1988, from an estimated 350 000 cases then, to 223 reported cases in 2012. The reduction is the result of the global effort to eradicate the disease. In 2013, only three countries (Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan) remain polio-endemic, down from more than 125 in 1988. As long as a single child remains infected, children in all countries are at risk of contracting polio. Failure to eradicate polio from these last remaining strongholds could result in as many as 200 000 new cases every year, within 10 years, all over the world. In most countries, the global effort has expanded capacities to tackle other infectious diseases by building effective surveillance and immunization systems.
Sanofi, an integrated global healthcare leader, discovers, develops and distributes therapeutic solutions focused on patients’ needs. Sanofi has core strengths in the field of healthcare with seven growth platforms: diabetes solutions, human vaccines, innovative drugs, consumer healthcare, emerging markets, animal health and the new Genzyme. Sanofi is listed in Paris (EURONEXT: SAN) and in New York (NYSE: SNY).
Sanofi Pasteur, the vaccines division of Sanofi, provides more than 1 billion doses of vaccine each year, making it possible to immunize more than 500 million people across the globe. A world leader in the vaccine industry, Sanofi Pasteur offers the broadest range of vaccines protecting against 20 infectious diseases. The company’s heritage, to create vaccines that protect life, dates back more than a century. Sanofi Pasteur is the largest company entirely dedicated to vaccines. Every day, the company invests more than EUR 1 million in research and development. For more information, please visit: www.sanofipasteur.com or www.sanofipasteur.us
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