Committed to fight
International effort targets neglected tropical diseases
Agroup made up of 13 drugmakers, governments, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and several global health groups made a $785 million commitment toward fighting neglected tropical diseases.
Meanwhile, some U.S. lawmakers announced legislation aimed at expediting the development and approval of treatments for chronic diseases.
Both initiatives encourage the development of new products or therapies to treat public health threats.
The organizations involved in the neglected tropical diseases summit in London agreed to sustain or expand drug donation programs for eight more years, partner to accelerate research and development of new drugs, and support the $785 million commitment to strengthen research and development, drug distribution and implementation programs for neglected tropical diseases, according to a news release.
The goal of the global commitment is to provide 14 billion treatments over the next decade for neglected tropical diseases such as leprosy and river blindness.
“This is certainly something of significance,” said Mark Grayson, a spokesman for the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America. “It’s about the idea that there are a large number of other participants.”
Grayson said that while drug companies have invested in global health programs for decades, pharmaceutical investment in global health programs overseas and in emerging markets is growing. Merck & Co.’s Mectizan donation program, which provides treatment for river blindness and lymphatic filariasis, has been in place since 1987.
Some of the participants in the neglected tropical diseases program are drug companies like Pfizer and Glaxosmithkline, the U.S. Agency for International Development, the World Bank, and a number of governments including the United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom. Congress has appropriated $89 million to U.S. AID for neglectedtropical-diseases control for fiscal 2012.
In the U.S., lawmakers announced the Spending Reductions Through Innovations in Therapies, or SPRINT, Act, which aims to develop new treatments for the diseases that are the “most deadly and the mostly costly” for American patients.
The legislation, which was introduced Feb. 2, would invest in public-private partnerships to develop drugs and therapies to fight chronic diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, according to a news release from Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD.), who sponsored the bill. It also would reduce product development timelines and allow the Food and Drug Administration to expedite review processes.
“By acting now, we can save billions in future healthcare spending and long-term-care costs,” Mikulski said in the release. “Through a public/private partnership that ensures each federal dollar is matched by $2 in private investment, we can zero in on the diseases that are the most deadly and the most costly.”
The bill also would establish what it refers to as the SPRINT Fund, a $50 million pool that would be used to support development of treatments that could reduce Medicare and Medicaid spending on Alzheimer’s disease.
A healthcare worker records a treatment after administering drugs to a patient who lives in Zanzibar.