The Clinton Foundation has worked out a complex deal involving Chinese wormwood farmers, Indian chemical companies, and Indian pharmaceutical companies that will result in less expensive anti-malaria drugs. Malaria affects roughly 515 million people each year, with between one and three million deaths.
The deal will help to control the price of wormwood, the source of a compound called artemisinin that has been used since 2004 to treat malaria. Since the discovery of artemisinin, the price of wormwood has gone from $115 per pound to $500 per pound, then down to $70 per pound. The deal will control the price of wormwood at not more than $137 per pound, while also controlling the prices of the medication. That will make it easier for sufferers in poorer countries—where the disease is most common—to afford the treatments they need.
Malaria has an interesting history, having been a part of the human condition for at least 50,000 years. In the early parts of the twentieth century, patients with syphilis were intentionally inflicted with malaria to induce a fever, which was then controlled with quinine. This had a risk of causing death from malaria, but that was considered preferable to the almost-certain death from the syphilis.
Kudos to Bill Clinton and his Foundation for taking this important step to help alleviate suffering in the poorer parts of the world.