(CNN) — Pfizer has agreed to sell enough of its experimental antivenom to be approved to treat Guinea worm disease — a condition that is almost completely eradicated in many developing countries — for 10 million people, according to an agreement announced Thursday.
Covidien, a pharmaceutical company based in Ireland, is acquiring the 10 million supplies — which will be used in countries with significant worm disease cases, as well as in African and Asian countries where the medical supply lines are relatively easy to transport, a statement from Pfizer said.
The agreement is expected to be approved by the European Commission during the second half of 2018, and Covidien’s initial delivery of antibiotic medicines to carry them out is expected to begin in 2019.
Last month, Covidien announced that it had been granted orphan drug designation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for a combination treatment of glutathione, neem oil and a component of DNA to control worm disease. An orphan drug designation is granted by the FDA to drugs used to treat rare diseases, usually those that affect fewer than 200,000 Americans.
Two months ago, Pfizer and Covidien announced the end of a nine-year partnership and manufacturing agreement. The original deal set up manufacturing operations for custom manufacturing products and services, and Pfizer and Covidien worked together to solve similar manufacturing and distribution problems in Africa, Latin America and Asia.
Guinea worm is a parasitic disease caused by a parasite that infests the skin of people in Africa and Asia. The disease is easily transmitted and mostly affects children, primarily during the day. People with the disease are often blind and suffer complete paralysis. Treatment is typically oral antibiotics. The disease has been almost eliminated in most developing countries, but people in remote areas may still contract it.
In particular, 90% of people suffering from Guinea worm infection require treatment.