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IPS Examines Need For New Drugs To Treat Neglected Tropical Diseases

Inter Press Service News Agency examines the shortcomings of treatments for neglected tropical diseases – which, according to the Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative (DNDi), account “for 12 percent of the global disease burden,” and 1.3 percent of the new drugs developed between 1975 to 2004. “The diseases in question account for the deaths of 500,000 people annually, mostly in sub-Saharan Africa, but drug development is biased towards the prospect of high profits, which diseases of the poor like sleeping sickness and visceral leishmaniaisis are unable to offer,” IPS writes.

“The pharmaceutical industry does not see neglected diseases as a market, because these diseases affect poor people with few resources. Therefore they are not a big market,” Marcel Tanner, chairman of the DNDi board of directors, told IPS during a meeting last month in Nairobi to discuss new ways to tackle NTDs.

“Existing therapies [for neglected tropical diseases] are often toxic, prohibitively costly and difficult to administer,” and overwhelm health personnel, IPS writes. The article also addresses efforts to prevent the spread of neglected tropical diseases, through the distribution of insecticide-treated nets and improved sanitation (Mulama, 7/6).