Com­mit­ted to fight

In­ter­na­tional ef­fort tar­gets ne­glected trop­i­cal dis­eases

Modern Healthcare - - COVER STORY - Jaimy Lee

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.

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