Some of the world’s most debilitating diseases are treated by a medication that was originally created for dogs.
It sounds weird, but it’s true. In 1978, a researcher at Merck hypothesized that a new heartworm preventative called ivermectin could help people suffering from onchocerciasis, a neglected tropical disease that causes river blindness primarily in sub-Saharan Africa. Less than a decade later, the drug was approved for use in humans, and Merck announced that it would provide ivermectin for free to anyone who needs it.
Today, it’s used to treat people suffering from a number of parasitic diseases. I recently saw firsthand how the Tanzanian government is administering ivermectin to whole communities to wipe out lymphatic filariasis.
The next ivermectin could be sitting in a lab right now, but we need to be purposeful about finding it. Private sector research can have tremendous benefits for the world’s poorest. If you look at …