dndi.org, Nairobi, Kenya
Tigrai Online, October 24, 2013
New study shows that, despite some progress, only 4% of new drugs and vaccines approved 2000-2011 were for neglected diseases, and a ‘fatal imbalance’ remains in R&D for many neglected patients
In a study published today in the open-access journal The Lancet Global Health, the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi) and other researchers report a persistent deficiency in truly new therapeutics for neglected diseases, despite nominal progress and an acceleration in research and development (R&D) efforts. This continued ‘fatal imbalance’ in medical R&D points to the urgent need to develop and deliver ground-breaking new treatments for the world's poorest and most neglected patients.
Researchers from DNDi, Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF), the Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases (WHO-TDR), and three universities (University Hospital of Grenoble, France; Joseph Fourier University, France; University of Oxford, UK) found that of the 850 new drugs and vaccines approved for all diseases, 4% (37) were for neglected diseases, defined broadly as those prevalent primarily in poor countries: malaria, tuberculosis, 17 neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) as defined by the World Health Organization (WHO), 11 diarrheal diseases, and 19 other diseases of poverty, excluding HIV/AIDS. Globally these neglected diseases represent an 11% health burden, based on a recent assessment of 2010 disability-adjusted life-years (DALYs).
Most newly developed therapeutic products were repurposed versions of existing drugs. Of the 336 brand-new drugs (new chemical entities, or NCEs) approved for all diseases in 2000-2011, only four, or 1%, were for neglected diseases; three were for malaria, and one for diarrheal disease. None were for any of the 17 WHO-listed NTDs.
‘While drug and vaccine development shows signs of acceleration for neglected diseases, we must keep pushing to keep these diseases on the international policy agenda and move quickly to deliver truly transformative, life-saving treatments’, said Dr Bernard Pécoul, Executive Director of DNDi.
‘Although strides have been made in the last decade, we still see deadly gaps in new medicines for some of the world's least visible patients’, said Dr Nathalie Strub-Wourgaft, Medical Director of DNDi. ‘We need to get more treatment candidates, NCEs or existing ones for repurposing, into and through the R&D pipeline to fundamentally change the way we manage these diseases.’
‘Our patients are still waiting for true medical breakthroughs’, said Dr Jean-Hervé Bradol of MSF, a co-author of the study. ‘People are still suffering and dying from these diseases, and healthcare providers must be able to offer all patients - irrespective of their ability to pay - the best treatment possible. Only then will we say that we have made progress.’ Read Study http://www.thelancet.com/journals/langlo/article/PIIS2214-109X(13)70078-0/fulltext
This study comes a decade after MSF hosted a major conference in New York to examine the crisis in R&D for neglected diseases and lay the groundwork for the creation of DNDi in 2003. In a 2001 study carried out by MSF and the Drugs for Neglected Diseases Working Group, the precursor to DNDi, only 1.1% of new drugs approved between 1975 and 1999 were found to be for neglected diseases, including NTDs, malaria, and TB, though they accounted for 12% of the global disease burden.
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About Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi)
DNDi is a not-for-profit research and development (R&D) organization working to deliver new treatments for the most neglected diseases, in particular sleeping sickness (human African trypanosomiasis), Chagas disease, leishmaniasis, specific helminth (filarial) infections, and pediatric HIV. Since its inception in 2003, DNDi has delivered six treatments: two fixed-dose antimalarials (ASAQ and ASMQ), nifurtimox-eflornithine combination therapy (NECT) for late-stage sleeping sickness, sodium stibogluconate and paromomycin (SSG&PM) combination therapy for visceral leishmaniasis in Africa, a set of combination therapies for visceral leishmaniasis in Asia, and a pediatric dosage form of benznidazole for Chagas disease. DNDi was established in 2003 by MSF, the Indian Council of Medical Research, Brazil’s Oswaldo Cruz Foundation, the Kenya Medical Research Institute, the Ministry of Health of Malaysia, and the Institut Pasteur in France, with the UNICEF/UNDP/World Bank/World Health Organization’s Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases as a permanent observer.