In this Forbes opinion piece, journalist Sarika Bansal examines five ways in which pharmaceutical companies can address neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), including creating cross-sectorial research partnerships for neglected diseases; joining patent pools for neglected diseases; donating drugs for neglected diseases; creating facilities dedicated to neglected disease research; and allowing scientists to work on neglected disease, both formally and informally.
Private Sector Involvement
“A group of health organizations [on Wednesday] launched a new international consortium to better prepare the clinical research community to respond to the next pandemic or other emerging health threat,” CIDRAP News reports (Schnirring, 12/7). “The International Severe Acute Respiratory Infection Consortium (ISARIC) is a global collaboration of over 20 hospital-based clinical research networks … aimed at ensuring the clinical researchers have in place the necessary open access protocols and data-sharing processes and have considered the ethical issues that will allow them to respond to rapidly emerging diseases with epidemic or pandemic potential, such as the recent pandemic H1N1 influenza and SARS outbreaks and potentially other rapidly emerging public health threats,” according to a Wellcome Trust press release.
In this Africa.com opinion piece, Ana Ruth Luis, medical director of the Southern Africa Strategic Business Unit at Chevron Africa and Latin America Ex in Angola, discusses what she calls “the important role Chevron has in driving down the incidence of HIV/AIDS in Africa.” She writes, “Chevron was able to drop new infections to zero among our employees and their babies by educating our employees, establishing a culture of voluntary, confidential testing and treatment, addressing stigma and discrimination in the workplace, and providing comprehensive medical care for expectant mothers.”
In this post in the Hill’s “Congress Blog,” John Castellani, president and CEO of Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, reports on how biopharmaceutical exports benefit the U.S. economy and global health, writing, “Leadership is needed to help keep U.S. biopharmaceutical research companies competitive in the global export market.” He continues, “According to the Administration, if we increased exports by just five percent, we would create hundreds of thousands of new U.S. jobs. … Among the ways that they can advance this effort is by knocking down foreign barriers and promoting strong intellectual property (IP) protections that allow biopharmaceutical companies to bring their medicines into other markets and, importantly, to the patients who need them.”
In this post in the Health Affairs blog, Martha Kwataine, executive director for the Malawi Health Equity Network (MHEN) and head of the Access to Medicines Campaign in Malawi, examines the role of local advocates and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in the country’s health system. She writes, “Amidst [Malawi’s health] challenges, the role of civil society, especially advocates, cannot be overemphasized. Civil society organizations are the ‘watchdogs’ of government. Historically, they have played a critical role, not just by influencing policy formulation, but also by providing checks and balances to government power.”
In this post in the Hill’s “Congress Blog,” Kaitlin Christenson, the coalition director of the Global Health Technologies Coalition; Jim Connolly, president and CEO of Aeras; and Mel Spigelman, president and CEO of the TB Alliance, respond to a recently released G-FINDER report that shows “overall global investment in the research and development (R&D) of [new global health technologies] has declined for the first time since 2007, when the tracking of such funding began,” writing, “This decline is especially troubling given that there are more than 100 products in [the Product Development Partnerships’ (PDPs)] pipelines.”
“Chevron Corporation and Texas Children’s Hospital [on Thursday] announced a $6 million, five-year agreement to expand the hospital’s Global Health Corps program that provides life-saving pediatric health care, treatment, and training to the most medically underserved populations in Africa,” a Chevron press release states. “Chevron’s contribution will support the recruitment and…
The Guardian examines how ready-to-use therapeutic foods (RUTFs) — “small packets of a sticky, peanut butter-like paste, fortified with minerals and vitamins, that can reverse severe malnutrition within six weeks” — “have revolutionized famine relief in Africa,” and asks whether these products could be produced in the countries in which they are being distributed. “The vast majority of RUTFs are produced in the U.S. or Europe, bought by aid agencies such as UNICEF, and transported great distances to reach those in need,” the newspaper writes, adding, “But a small group of social enterprises is questioning this business model, redesigning it with a more local footprint in mind.”
Public-private partnerships “will boost small enterprises, bring technology to schools and improve sanitation and clean water in Jamaica,” a VOA News editorial states and highlights three such partnerships created by USAID. The first, between USAID and the Jamaican National Building Society, will create a Social Enterprise Boost Initiative; the second, between food processing company GraceKennedy Ltd. and the Western Union Company, will train teachers and bring technology to 13 schools in Jamaica; and the third, between USAID in Jamaica and the Prince’s Foundation for the Built Environment, will help provide access to sanitation and clean water in a neighborhood of Jamaica’s capital. “The effect of USAID’s aid to Jamaica expands exponentially with these public-private partnerships,” the editorial writes, adding, “The projects are valued at more than $7 million. USAID’s contribution is less than $2 million” (12/18).
Pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKline are increasing their sales of reduced-cost pneumonia vaccines to developing countries through the GAVI Alliance “by more than 50 percent, marking the scale-up of an international program to protect millions of children,” Reuters reports (Hirschler, 12/16).