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IFPMA sets out blueprint for tropical disease R&D

Report outlines "systemic gaps" in current research model

There are several "systemic gaps" in the R&D model for HIV, malaria, tuberculosis and neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) that must be addressed if the healthcare needs of the developing world are to be addressed effectively, according to a new report.

Part of the reason for the lack of R&D into drugs for these important and widespread diseases is down to the difficulties of securing a return on the R&D investment, which has discouraged pharma companies from engaging in discovery research for NTDs.

The report, commissioned by the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers & Associations (IFPMA), lays out a blueprint to tackle the problem which focuses on identifying the gaps, mitigating the cost and risk of R&D, and improving the translation of basic research into improved clinical outcomes.

While noting that pharma is the second-largest funder of R&D into NTDs and so-called type II diseases such as malaria and TB, the IFPMA report acknowledges that the traditional industry model of drug discovery and development is not optimal in this setting.

Rather, the report proposes a hybrid model in which traditional biopharmaceutical development process is accompanied by mechanisms to 'delink' the cost of R&D from the price of medicines.

According to the blueprint, research and discovery activities would be encouraged via delinking mechanisms such as open compound databases and research grants. Product development partnerships would then kick in for preclinical and clinical development, and these would be coupled to advanced market commitments to ensure access for patients in developing countries.

"Addressing R&D needs in the developing world is complex, and solutions differ from one setting to another," said study lead author Meir Perez Pugatch.

"Our study accounts for these complexities and concludes that increasing R&D is best achieved with a combination of mechanisms. In other words, there is no 'one size fits all' approach."

Earlier this year, 13 pharmaceutical companies plus governments, the World Health Organization (WHO) and other public health groups announced a $785m project dedicated to R&D into NTDs, in addition to medicine donation programmes aimed at providing 1.4bn treatments per year.

The collaborators also signed the 'London Declaration on Neglected Tropical Diseases' agreement, which promised new levels of collaboration, tracking and reporting of progress.

11th May 2012

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