Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter joined Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) today to commemorate the 15 th Anniversary of the International Trachoma Initiative (ITI), an independent, not-for-profit program dedicated to the elimination of blinding trachoma as a public health concern. Trachoma is an infectious eye disease that is a leading cause of blindness and suffering in the poorest regions of the world. Pfizer has provided hundreds of millions of doses of the antibiotic Zithromax® (azithromycin) to help the global campaign wipe out blinding trachoma by the year 2020.
Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, Founder of The Carter Center, and Ian Read, CEO, Pfizer Exhibit Tour (Photo: Business Wire)
“The Pfizer donation of Zithromax was momentous in trachoma control, and The Carter Center was pleased to go to scale in trachoma endemic countries to get the medicine into the villages and demonstrate the world could end blinding trachoma,” President Carter said during a celebration with partners, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and Pfizer employees at the company’s headquarters in Manhattan. “The progress and success of the trachoma campaign is something every Pfizer colleague can be proud of. Through the 15-year partnership, millions of people worldwide will be spared the injustice, indignity and pain of their eyelashes scratching and scarring their eyes,” added President Carter, founder of The Carter Center, a pioneer in disease eradication and elimination activities. Pfizer, through the ITI, has donated more than 340 million doses of the antibiotic to date to prevent and treat trachoma in support of the World Health Organization (WHO)-led Global Alliance for the Elimination of Trachoma by the year 2020. “We are honored to have President Carter join Pfizer to commemorate the 15 th anniversary of the ITI program and gratified about the progress that has been made toward eliminating blinding trachoma as a public health concern,” said Ian Read, Pfizer Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. “Pfizer joins President Carter and others in envisioning a world where blinding trachoma has been eliminated. I speak for the entire Pfizer community in reiterating our desire, along with partners like The Carter Center and ITI, to helping end the suffering by 2020.” ITI has managed the distribution of the antibiotic to 28 countries in Africa and Asia since 1998, said Dr. Mark Rosenberg, interim director of ITI. “Trachoma brings extraordinary human suffering and economic devastation to tens of millions of people, mostly women and children in poorer countries,” Dr. Rosenberg said. “It can be prevented, treated and eliminated.”