Seeking Solutions to a Global Health Crisis

Eli Lilly and Company's Technology Transfer for Multi-drug-Resistant Tuberculosis Medicines

Tuberculosis (TB) is an ancient disease that continues to wreak havoc today, competing with HIV/AIDS as a top killer among infectious diseases worldwide.1 Despite significant advances against TB throughout the mid- 20th century, by the end of the century, the disease was back on the rise.

Even more alarming, doctors started documenting new strains of TB that were resistant to many of the indicated medicines.

These strains came to be known as multidrug-resistant TB, or MDR-TB. A highly contagious disease, MDR-TB spreads, like other forms of TB, through the air.

The World Health Organization (WHO) notes that every country has reported cases of MDR-TB, although most deaths (95 percent) occur in low- and middle-income countries.2

In 2003, Eli Lilly and Company (Lilly) decided to donate the intellectual property rights and manufacturing know-how for two Lilly antibiotics, capreomycin and cycloserine, that had been identified as effective in the treatment of MDR-TB.

This decision led Lilly to establish the Lilly MDR-TB Partnership to improve treatment options for those living with MDR-TB.

A philanthropic initiative convened and supported by Lilly, the Lilly MDR-TB Partnership was designed in collaboration with leading public health organizations around the globe, including government leaders, global health organizations, country-level healthcare providers, community and advocacy organizations, and others.

From 2003 through 2016, Lilly would commit $170 million in cash, medicine, and training to the partnership—the largest philanthropic undertaking in the company’s history.

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