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African Leaders Gather To Discuss Ways To Bolster Continent’s Drug, Diagnostic Development

Business Day examines efforts currently underway in Africa to bolster the continent’s ability to develop new drugs and diagnostics.

Though “Africa bears the greatest burden of the world’s diseases, and while there have been a handful of African successes in developing diagnostic tests, the continent has yet to commercialise any new medicines of its own,” the newspaper writes (Kahn, 10/6). 

Africa’s commitment to future drug development takes center stage at a meeting in Cape Town, South Africa, this week of the African Network for Drug and Diagnostics Innovation, where the group will discuss “plans for the first African-owned and -managed innovation fund to finance drugs and diagnostics research,” Independent Online reports.

The plan calls “for a R4.4 billion [$590 million] endowment fund in Africa that would generate a sustainable income of up to $30 million (about R230m) a year to support African drug and diagnostic innovation,” the news service writes, adding that the African Development Bank is being looked at as a possible funding source for the project.

During an address to the delegates, South African Minister of Science and Technology Naledi Pandor expressed optimism that South Africa would become a leader in biotechnology and pharmaceuticals: “As a government we have committed ourselves to the establishment of the necessary initiatives and infrastructure that will assist in the drug-development value chain.” She added, “This includes medicinal chemistry, preclinical testing facilities and capabilities, and the manufacturing of active pharmaceutical ingredients” (Meyer, 10/5).