Drugmakers pledge $50m
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.