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Conference Addresses Issues Of Innovation For Neglected Diseases

Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi), and the Mount Sinai School of Medicine this week are hosting a conference in New York, titled “Lives in the Balance: Delivering Medical Innovations for Neglected Patients and Populations,” the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. In a video presentation, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim “told the conference … that the goal is to ‘lay the foundation of a health science that works for the poor,’” according to the newspaper. “That means innovative research on diseases and delivery systems geared to people in developing nations, not the more affluent ones, greater sharing of ideas, and support for developing nations so they can assist in the process from beginning to end,” the newspaper writes (Sell, 12/14).

“Despite important progress in research and development (R&D) for global health over the past decade, only a small fraction of new medicines developed between 2000 and 2011 were for the treatment of neglected diseases, highlighting the ‘fatal imbalance’ between global disease burden and drug development for some of the world’s most devastating illnesses,” according to research presented at the conference by MSF and DNDi, a press release from the three sponsoring organizations reports. “There have been advances, but for many diseases we have yet to see the kind of ‘game-changers’ that are truly needed,” DNDi Executive Director Bernard Pecoul said in the press release, adding, “Governments must put in place an R&D framework to sustainably coordinate, finance, and stimulate medical innovation for new drugs, diagnostics and vaccines for the people who need them most” (12/13).