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Abstract Background Artemisinin-based combination therapy is currently recommended worldwide for the treatment of uncomplicated malaria. Fixed-dose combinations are preferred as they favour compliance. This paper reports on the initial phases of the pharmaceutical development of an artesunate-amodiaquine (ASAQ) bilayer co-formulation tablet, undertaken following pre-formulation studies by a network of scientists and industrials from institutions of both industrialized and low income countries. Methods Pharmaceutical development was performed by a research laboratory at the University Bordeaux Segalen, School of Pharmacy, for feasibility and early stability studies of various drug formulations, further transferred to a company specialized in pharmaceutical development, and then provided to another company for clinical batch manufacturing. The work was conducted by a regional public-private not-for-profit network (TropiVal) within a larger Public Private partnership (the FACT project), set up by WHO/TDR, Médecins Sans Frontières and the Drugs for Neglected Disease initiative (DNDi). Results The main pharmaceutical goal was to combine in a solid oral form two incompatible active principles while preventing artesunate degradation under tropical conditions. Several options were attempted and failed to provide satisfactory stability results: incorporating artesunate in the external phase of the tablets, adding a pH regulator, alcoholic wet granulation, dry granulation, addition of an hydrophobic agent, tablet manufacturing in controlled conditions. However, long-term stability could be achieved, in experimental batches under GMP conditions, by physical separation of artesunate and amodiaquine in a bilayer co-formulation tablet in alu-alu blisters. Conduction of the workplan was monitored by DNDi. Conclusions Collaborations between research and industrial groups greatly accelerated the process of development of the bi-layered ASAQ tablet. Lack of public funding was the main obstacle hampering the development process, and no intellectual property right was claimed. This approach resulted in a rapid technology transfer to the drug company Sanofi-Aventis, finalizing the process of development, registration and WHO pre-qualification of the fixed-dose co-formulation together with DNDi. The bi-layered tablet is made available under the names of Coarsucam® and Artesunate amodiaquine Winthrop®, Sanofi-Aventis. The issue related to the difficulty of public institutions to valorise their participation in such initiative by lack of priority and funding of applied research is discussed.

Original publication




Journal article


Malaria Journal


Springer Science and Business Media LLC

Publication Date