Drug­mak­ers pledge $50m

The Star Early Edition - - BUSINESS REPORT -

TWO decades af­ter they were spurred into ac­tion to tackle Aids in Africa, global drug­mak­ers said yesterday they would in­vest an ini­tial $50 mil­lion (R678m) over three years to fight cancer and other non-com­mu­ni­ca­ble dis­eases (NCDs) in poor coun­tries.

Twenty-two com­pa­nies, in­clud­ing Pfizer, Merck, No­var­tis, Roche, Sanofi and Glax­oSmithK­line, will con­trib­ute funds and ex­per­tise to the project, which is backed by the World Bank.

The Ac­cess Ac­cel­er­ated ini­tia­tive, an­nounced at the World Eco­nomic Fo­rum in Davos, aims to im­prove both treat­ment and preven­tion.

In the past, the fo­cus of health care in poorer parts of the world has been on fight­ing in­fec­tious dis­eases, whether through vac­ci­na­tions, drug pro­grammes or the roll-out of anti-malar­ial bed­nets. To­day, how­ever, the health care bur­den is shift­ing as deaths from th­ese con­di­tions de­cline and peo­ple in in­creas­ingly ur­banised pop­u­la­tions suc­cumb to dis­eases such as cancer, di­a­betes, and heart and lung dis­or­ders fu­elled by West­ern life­styles. Such NCDs cause nearly 70% of all deaths worldwide and al­most three quar­ters of them oc­cur in low-in­come and mid­dle-in­come coun­tries, ac­cord­ing to the World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion. Cancer is the ini­tial fo­cus and drug com­pa­nies will work with the Union for In­ter­na­tional Cancer Con­trol to test out new di­ag­nos­tics and treat­ments in sev­eral cities around the world on a pi­lot ba­sis. Sanofi chief ex­ec­u­tive Olivier Brandi­court said the $50m com­mit­ment was just a start. “Based on the re­sults we’ll gather af­ter­wards, we will have a more am­bi­tious pro­gramme with more stake­hold­ers be­tween 2020 and 2030,” he said.

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