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Report Documents Increase In R&D Projects On Developing World Diseases

“Drugmakers are now working on over 100 R&D projects designed to tackle diseases of the developing world and almost 80% of them are being carried out with non-industry partners,” according to a report (.pdf) released on Wednesday by the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers & Associations (IFPMA), Pharma Times reports.

The report tracks the efforts of IFPMA members to develop medicines and vaccines to tackle “the 10 DDWs [diseases of the developing world] prioritised by the Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases,” which include “tuberculosis, malaria, human African trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness), leishmaniasis, dengue, onchocerciasis (River blindness), American trypanosomiasis (Chagas disease), schistosomiasis, leprosy and lymphatic filariasis,” Pharma Times writes (Grogan, 11/11).

According to the report, “[t]he number of DDW medicine and vaccine projects undertaken by IFPMA companies has increased from 84 in 2009 to a total of 102 this year,” with “the number of tuberculosis projects [increasing] from 25 to 31 and malaria projects from 34 to 41, while projects for the remaining eight tropical diseases increased from 25 to 30,” an IFPMA press release states.

“This latest Developing World Disease R&D Status Report shows that our industry is serious about helping to address human diseases, including those which otherwise risk being neglected because they affect poor countries,” outgoing IFPMA President Haruo Naito said during an address at the IFPMA Assembly in Washington, D.C. “In October, the Director General of the World Health Organization called on companies to help improve access to medicines for neglected tropical diseases – and IFPMA companies responded with significant new or expanded donation programs. Today, we see that our companies are also equally committed to help develop new medicines and vaccines for these diseases.”

Naito added, “The latest report also shows that industry is not alone in its R&D efforts, for nearly four out of five DDW research projects are undertaken in cooperation with non-industry partners,” according to the press release (11/10).

Newly elected IFPMA President David Brennan also spoke of the report at the meeting where he “said challenges such as chronic diseases and antibiotic resistance will make cooperation and partnerships even more necessary in future. He pledged that the IFPMA will continue working closely with the World Health Organisation and other stakeholders towards this end,” Dow Jones Newswires reports.

“We already have some clear examples of the potential of those partnerships, not least in the fight against tuberculosis,” he said. “The major collaboration led by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the TB Alliance, and the Critical Path Institute is making real progress in speeding up the development of new treatments. … Here again, it is the sharing of the work that is making the difference by bringing together pharmaceutical companies, government agencies, donors, advocates, academics, and NGOs,” he said.

Brennan continued, “Making these sorts of partnerships work effectively must be a central priority for all of us, because they will provide us with a model for achieving successful health outcomes in the future” (Stovall, 11/10).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.