The IFPMA has just published the 2009 edition of its Status Report on Pharmaceutical Industry R&D for Diseases of the Developing World(1). This documents research and development projects by IFPMA member companies(2), alone or with partners, to develop medicines and vaccines for the 10 diseases of the developing world (DDW)(3) prioritized by the United Nations' TDR tropical disease research and training organization(4). Member company DDW medicine and vaccine projects have increased from 67 last year to a total of 84 this year. While the number of tuberculosis and malaria projects has grown slightly, projects for the remaining eight tropical diseases have increased markedly from 11 in 2008 to 25 in 2009.

Michael D. Boyd, Acting Director General of the IFPMA, said: "It is obvious that the world does not have all the medicines it needs to address developing world diseases. Research is vital if we are to improve global public health, which is the focus of a high-level ECOSOC(5) meeting in Geneva this week. The IFPMA's report underlines the commitment of the research-based pharmaceutical industry and its many partners to fill these gaps. The public-private partnership model is delivering increased research and development efforts on diseases primarily affecting the developing world."

The last year has seen the approval of two new treatments for diseases of the developing world. Pediatric Coartem®, developed by Novartis and the Medicines for Malaria Venture, is a sweet-tasting soluble dosage form, which is much easier for children to take than the original presentation. Malaria is primarily a killer of young children, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, where it is the leading cause of death for children under five(6). Thanks to collaboration between Bayer HealthCare, sanofi-aventis, TDR, the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative, Epicentre, Médecins sans Frontières and the Swiss Tropical Institute, the combination of oral Nofurtimox and intravenous Eflornithine has been approved for human African trypanosomiasis, or sleeping sickness, and included in the WHO's list of essential medicines(7). Compared to Eflornithine alone, the combination halves the number of injections required to treat this serious disease.

(1) The IFPMA Status Report: Pharmaceutical Industry R&D for Diseases of the Developing World - 2009. This can be accessed via ifpma.

(2) Companies which are direct members of the IFPMA or members of an IFPMA member association.

(3) The 10 diseases are: Human African trypanosomiasis, Chagas disease, dengue fever, leishmaniasis, leprosy, lymphatic filariasis, malaria, onchocerciasis, schistosomiasis and tuberculosis.

(4) The Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases (TDR), co-sponsored by the UNICEF, UNDP, World Bank and WHO.

(5) United Nations Economic and Social Commission.

(6) Roll Back Malaria partnership - see rollbackmalaria/malariaMessages.html

(7) See here.

International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers & Associations

View drug information on Coartem.

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