Not-for-profit drug development is key to addressing R&D gaps for neglected diseases and drug-resistant infections.
Dr Bernard Pécoul
Executive Director, Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi)
The global response to COVID-19 has led to the development of vaccines, treatments and diagnostics at unprecedented speed, but it has also revealed the ugly truth about the inequalities of our global biomedical innovation system. It is therefore timely that DNDi has just launched its new strategic plan to continue to address unequal access to innovation.
As we face the coming decade, we must brace ourselves for future pandemics, climate-sensitive diseases and neglected diseases – all of which exact a disproportionate toll on vulnerable communities.
Fair global access to treatment
In order to respond to neglected patient needs, we need to involve more R&D actors in low- and middle-income countries, champion an open, transparent approach to drug development and continue to advocate for equitable global access to treatment.
We must advance a robust R&D agenda that drives gender-responsive drug development and delivers often-overlooked child-friendly drug formulations.
Through this collaborative model, we have already delivered eight game-changing treatments – including the first all-oral treatment for sleeping sickness. We now aim to deliver 25 treatments by our 25th anniversary in 2028.
We invite you to join us on this journey. DNDi’s 2021-2028 Strategic Plan is available here:
Dr Manica Balasegaram
Executive Director, Global Antibiotic Research & Development Partnership (GARDP)
COVID-19 has brought into sharp focus the failure of preventing and preparing for pandemics. As the world reels from the tragedy and economic fallout of COVID-19, a new GARDP report explores how to apply the vital lessons we are learning to the fight against drug resistance.
The unchecked growth of drug-resistant infections is a silent pandemic with long-term implications for global public health and the global economy. These infections kill an estimated 700,000 people a year,a number set to rise exponentially as drug resistance grows and weakens our ability to treat even common infections. Like COVID-19, antibiotic-resistant bacteria can infect anyone, of any age, in any country.
Drug resistance affects everyone
COVID-19 has clearly shown that a single country cannot solve the challenges of a rapidly moving pandemic on its own. We need to join forces as countries, organisations, institutions and companies to identify and develop new ways to prevent, test and treat.
GARDP is addressing critically underfunded and unfilled gaps to deliver new treatments to tackle the drug-resistant infections that pose the greatest threat to global health. This includes developing treatments for babies with sepsis, sexually transmitted infections and hospital-acquired infections. GARDP is seeking €500 million to develop these treatments – www.gardp.org
Collaborative partnerships are vital to meet the urgent need to develop treatments for neglected diseases and drug-resistant infections, while ensuring they are affordable and tailored to the communities who need them.
In order for this to happen, low- and middle-income countries need to be in the driving seat for research. We must deepen industrial, regulatory and clinical trial capacity while leading on conducting studies for diseases that affect our populations.
Promoting collaborative research
We are working with local partners to run trials for sleeping sickness, leishmaniasis, river blindness, paediatric HIV and mycetoma, while we are helping to build an ‘innovation ecosystem’ in Africa that can support future research for other neglected diseases. We have also launched the largest trials in Africa to find treatments for early-stage COVID-19.
GARDP and partners have completed one of the largest ever studies on the care of babies with sepsis across 11 countries including Kenya, Uganda and South Africa, which will provide evidence to help transform treatment for new-borns.
We are also involved in a global trial to treat gonorrhoea, a curable sexually transmitted infection. Every year there are 87 million new gonorrhoea infections globally.
We must continue to push research for Africans, by Africans.