The United States Food and Drug Administration agency announced last Saturday that it had approved Moxidectin 8 mg Oral for the treatment of River Blindness in patients aged 12 years or older. The drug was co-founded by Ugandan doctor Amos Nyathirombo
Dr Nyathirombo and 18 other doctors in four African countries who found that Moxidectin, previously a veterinary medicine, was more effective in treating River Blindness than Ivermectin which is in common use. Their findings were published in medical journal, Lancet, in January, this year.
Their study conducted in Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia and Ghana compared the efficacy and effectiveness of Ivermectin and Moxidectin and discovered that the latter killed the River Blindness worms in the eyes and skin faster in humans.
River Blindness is caused by a parasitic worm, Onchocerca volvulus.
The disease manifests as severe itching, disfiguring skin conditions and visual impairment, including permanent blindness, caused by the worm’s larvae (microfilariae), according to WHO. Dr Nyathirombo said yesterday the new drug manufactured by US pharmaceutical company, Wyeth Pharmaceuticals will help Uganda to eliminate River Blindness earlier than the 2020 target year.
Moxidectin, is a macrocyclic lactone anthelmintic medicine that selectively binds to the parasite’s glutamate-gated chloride ion channels. These channels are vital to the function of invertebrate nerve and muscle cells. Moxidectin has activity against O. volvulus microfilariae but does not kill adult O. volvulus parasites.