Five Japanese pharma giants are teaming up with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Japan’s government to develop new medicines, vaccines, and diagnostics for infectious diseases in developing countries.

Astellas Pharma, Daiichi Sankyo, Eisai, Shionogi, and Takeda Pharmaceutical have joined the Gates foundation and Japanese officials to launch the Global Health Innovative Technology (GHIT) fund, which according to participants will be the public-private partnership of its kind in Japan.

The fund has three stated purposes: facilitating R&D global partnerships between Japanese and non-Japanese private and public research organizations; providing grants to those R&D global partnerships; and advancing and strengthening Japan’s contribution to global health.

Grants will be awarded for research into treatments for HIV, malaria, tuberculosis, and neglected tropical diseases. GHIT parallels public-private drug development efforts elsewhere worldwide, such as Europe’s Innovative Medicines Initiative, in which pharma giants have joined with the European Commission to fund research into resistance to antibiotics and other health areas of priority.

“The company considers this commitment as a long-term investment in its future in an increasingly globalized era and as such consistently engages in initiatives focused on overcoming issues related to access to medicines in order to effectively combat infectious diseases, including neglected tropical diseases,” Eisai said in its own statement.

Takeda said in its statement that its participation in GHIT is part of a broader commitment “to solve the social challenges in healthcare where the company can leverage its own expertise.” Toward that end, Takeda said, it is also supporting efforts of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (Global Fund) and Plan Japan to improve access to healthcare for people in developing countries.

Daiichi Sankyo said in its statement that its involvement in GHIT paralleled the company’s individual global-health efforts, which include establishing mobile healthcare field clinics service in India, Cameroon, and Tanzania, to developing countries. 

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