Partners pledge to coordinate efforts to accelerate progress.
The burden of ten neglected tropical diseases on the world’s poorest may be significantly lightened in the decade ahead by a broad partnership struck by global pharmaceutical companies, governments, and non-governmental organizations.
Inspired by the World Health Organization’s 2020 Roadmap on neglected tropical diseases, the partnership members say they will sustain or expand existing drug donation programs to meet demand through 2020; share expertise and compounds to accelerate research and development of new drugs; and provide more than $785 million to support R&D efforts and strengthen drug distribution and implementation programs.
By 2020, the partners have committed to eradicating Guinea worm disease, and helping eliminate lymphatic filariasis, leprosy, sleeping sickness, and blinding trachoma. They’ll focus their work in Brazil, Mozambique, Tanzania, Bangladesh, and other selected sites in the Americas and Africa. It is the largest coordinated effort to date to combat neglected tropical diseases.
The governments of the United States, the United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates, and non-governmental organizations including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the World Health Organization are providing funding and other support.
Speaking on behalf of the CEOs of the 13 pharmaceutical companies involved, Andrew Witty, CEO of GlaxoSmithKline, says, “Many companies and organizations have worked for decades to fight these horrific diseases. But no one company or organization can do it alone. Today, we pledge to work hand-in-hand to revolutionize the way we fight these diseases now and in the future.”
Other pharmaceutical companies involved include Sanofi, Eisai, Bayer, Gilead Sciences, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Merck Sharp & Dohme, Merck KGaA, Novartis, Pfizer, Abbott, and Bristol-Myers Squibb.
New research and development collaborations and access agreements with 11 companies and the R&D organization Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative will provide access to compound libraries that could lead to new treatments.
The arrangement will work in parallel with Re:Search, a separate program started in October 2011 by the World Intellectual Property Organization that provides access to intellectual property for pharmaceutical compounds, technologies, know-how, and data for research and development for neglected tropical diseases, tuberculosis, and malaria.
At least one billion people worldwide, one person in seven, suffer from neglected tropical diseases, according to the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers & Associations. Between new and existing pledges totaled, companies will donate an average of 1.4 billion treatments each year to those in need, the group says.
By MICHAEL FITZHUGH