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HOME > PAST ISSUE > July-August 2010 > Article Detail

FEATURE ARTICLE

Ivermectin and River Blindness

Science and philanthropy put an end to blindly following the next generation

Philip A. Rea, Vivian Zhang, Yelena S. Baras

2010-07ReaF1.jpgClick to Enlarge ImageMost pet owners are aware of the “deworming” medication that prevents heart worm, but few know that ivermectin also prevents or cures onchocerciasis in human beings. River blindness, as it is commonly known, is endemic to 34 nations, most of them in Africa, and affects 37 million people. 500,000 of those are already experiencing severe visual impairment, and 300,000 are blind. The authors describe ivermectin's development and pharmacology, and tell the story of how a few persistent individuals at Merck & Co. arranged to have it provided for free to those who cannot afford it, allaying untold misery in the developing world.


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