Visceral leishmaniasis (VL), transmitted by the female sandfly, is the second-deadliest parasitic disease after malaria. There are approximately 400,000 new cases of VL each year, 90 percent of which occur in six countries – Bangladesh, Brazil, Ethiopia, India, South Sudan and Sudan. Without treatment, VL is nearly always fatal.

Epidemics of VL and HIV/AIDS compound each other. VL accelerates disease progression in people with HIV by suppressing their immune system, and people with HIV are at substantially greater risk of becoming infected with VL, particularly if they are not receiving antiretroviral therapy.

Our Role

Our antifungal medicine AmBisome® (amphotericin B liposome for injection) is recommended by the World Health Organization as a first-line treatment for VL. A 2010 study published in The New England Journal of Medicine demonstrated that a single dose of AmBisome was as effective and less expensive than conventional VL therapy containing amphotericin.

VL is one of 10 neglected tropical diseases targeted for control or elimination by 2020. Since 1992, Gilead has partnered with the World Health Organization and other groups to make AmBisome available at discounted prices in developing countries. In December 2011, we announced an expansion of this partnership by donating 445,000 vials of AmBisome to treat more than 50,000 people over five years. The donation, equivalent to $8 million in product if sold at a no-profit price, supports national plans to control and eliminate the disease.

At Gilead we are inspired by the opportunity to address unmet medical needs for patients living with life-threatening diseases around the world.