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GEN News Highlights : Jan 30, 2012

Private-Public Partnership Focusing on Neglected Tropical Diseases Established

Consortium includes 13 pharma firms and $785 million to support R&D and drug distribution.

The U.S. and U.K. governments, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the World Bank, 13 pharmaceutical companies, and officials from countries particularly afflicted by neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) are coming together to boost availability of existing medications and R&D into new drugs. Together they will focus on 10 NTDs and provide more than $785 million. The partners also signed onto the "London Declaration on Neglected Tropical Diseases," in which they pledged new levels of collaboration and tracking and reporting of progress.

New funding commitments will fully support work toward the eradication of Guinea worm as well as expedite progress toward the 2020 goals of: elimination for lymphatic filariasis, blinding trachoma, sleeping sickness, and leprosy as well as control of soil-transmitted helminthes, schistosomiasis, river blindness, Chagas disease, and visceral leishmaniasis.

The pharmaceutical industry will reportedly donate 14 billion treatments this decade to support the elimination or control of these nine NTDs. Averaging 1.4 billion treatments annually, the donations build upon companies’ existing medicine donation programs.

Pfizer, Merck & Co., Johnson & Johnson, Sanofi, GlaxoSmithKline, and Novartis are among the companies that will contribute to the program. The Gates foundation announced a five-year, $363 million commitment to support NTD product and operational research, according to Reuters.

Among private-public partnerships are the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi) and Abbott’s four-year joint research and nonexclusive licensing agreement. They will undertake research on new antimicrobial agents for several neglected tropical diseases including Chagas disease, helminth infections, leishmaniasis, and sleeping sickness.

Equitable access to treatments for neglected diseases in all endemic countries, not only least-developed countries, is at the core of this agreement, the partners state. DNDi says that it has committed to ensuring the lowest sustainable pricing for products developed and distributed as a result of the agreement. Intellectual property (IP) related to this collaboration, existing relevant Abbott IP, and new IP generated by this alliance will be subject to a principle of nonexclusive licensing to address neglected diseases in endemic countries. Abbott has the right of first negotiation to become DNDi's development and distribution partner.

Since 2009, Abbott has provided compounds for DNDi to screen for activity against neglected diseases. This new agreement expands this relationship and provides DNDi access to selected classes of molecules and accompanying data generated by Abbott.