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Business & Regulation Trends & Forecasts, Drug Discovery

Always the Bridesmaid…

The recent progress in global health has been extraordinary. To give just one example, spurred on by the Millennium Development Goals, the global health community managed to cut the global child mortality rate by over half during 1990 to 2015. However, we are now in an even more ambitious era. The level of ambition is reflected in the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which include the target of ending “the epidemics of AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and neglected tropical diseases” and ending “preventable deaths of newborns and children under 5 years of age” by 2030. Achieving these zero targets will almost certainly be impossible unless we step up our investments in neglected disease R&D to develop new, game-changing technologies. There is no credible empirical research showing that the world can reach these zero targets for global health with today’s technologies alone.

Scaling up investments in neglected disease product development is a responsibility for everyone in the global health community across the public, philanthropic, and private sectors – including pharma companies. Of the many barriers to such scale-up, a major one is the lack of consolidated information about which product candidates (drugs, vaccines, diagnostics, etc) are currently in the pipeline and at what stage, the estimated costs to move these candidates through the pipeline, and the likely product launches. If such information were more readily available it would highlight gaps in the pipeline – i.e., which diseases have no or few products under development – and enable investors and advocates to more easily drive change by targeting their investment decisions. What we ultimately need is an open access platform that has complete information on the pipeline. Such a platform would be highly valuable to public, philanthropic, and private health investors, allowing them to focus their funding on the areas of greatest need.

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About the Author

Gavin Yamey

Professor of the Practice of Global Health and Public Policy, Director, Center for Policy Impact in Global Health, and Associate Director for Policy at the Duke Global Health Institute, US.

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