Indian pharmaceutical giant Ranbaxy announced at a conference in New Delhi that it has developed a new "indigenous" anti-malaria drug.
The new drug, called Synriam, which is effective against the deadliest malaria microbe, Plasmodium Falciparum, would be a boon for millions of malaria patients around the globe, said Ranbaxy chief executive and managing director Arun Sawhney.
"Almost 77 percent of the 2.5 million malaria patients in South East Asia are in India. Synriam will certainly become the preferred option in the hands of doctors to fight malaria, which annually claims half a million lives globally," Sawhney said.
Speaking on the occasion, union Minister for Science, Technology and Earth Sciences Vilasrao Deshmukh said he had been told (by Ranbaxy) that "Synriam is safe and efficacious. I am sure they (Ranbaxy) will ensure that the drug is affordable, as malaria affects the poor more".
"Globally, the Indian pharmaceutical industry is ranked third in volumes and 14th in value. This is not because our quality is lower, but because our profit margins are minimum. I congratulate our pharma companies for keeping the prices of lifesaving medicines low," Deshmukh added.
Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare Ghulam Nabi Azad agreed with his cabinet colleague, saying that the drug should be affordable "so that the poor and needy can access it easily".
Malaria remains a major global health challenge, especially in developing and under developed countries. The disease spreads through the bite of female Anopheles mosquitoes.
Out of four malaria parasites Plasmodium Falciparum and Plasmodium Vivax are most common with the former being responsible for almost 90 percent fatalities due to the disease.