Sanofi-aventis and WHO partner to fight sleeping sickness in Africa
Sanofi-aventis, the largest pharmaceutical company in Europe and the fourth-largest in the world, began a partnership with the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2001 to fight sleeping sickness and other neglected diseases affecting the world’s poorest people.
Initial discussions with the WHO highlighted that a simple drug donation was not enough. Only combined action—drug donation, subsidies to fund distribution programmes and new research and development to improve treatments and diagnostics—could create a reasonable chance to bring sleeping sickness back under control. Over the first five years, 36 African countries benefited from the partnership. Nearly 110,000 lives have been saved. The case examines the special challenges and opportunities facing the partnership and the innovative ways that it has remained viable. Above all, it demonstrates the unique leadership role that a private firm like Sanofi-aventis can play by applying its talents and resources.