[Ip-health] Pecoul & Balasegaram in Nature - WHO: Steering plans for neglected diseases

Thiru Balasubramaniam thiru at keionline.org
Thu Mar 27 09:07:30 PDT 2014



WHO: Steering plans for neglected diseases
Bernard Pécoul & Manica Balasegaram

Nature 507, 431 (27 March 2014)
doi: 10.1038/507431d
Published online 26 March 2014

Mary Moran criticizes plans by the World Health Organization (WHO)
for tackling neglected diseases in the developing world (Nature 506,
267; 2014). Her arguments are misleading and trivialize global efforts to
fix the research and development (R&D) system that is failing to address
the health needs of people in these countries.

After 10 years' effort by WHO member states, the WHO Consultative
Expert Working Group on R&D Financing and Coordination has proposed a
framework to tackle these R&D shortcomings. This aims to promote and
needs-driven innovation, sustainable funding mechanisms and patient
access to health technologies.

Moran contends that the current drug pipeline for neglected diseases
is "successful". In the past ten years, however, only 4% of all new drugs
and vaccines and 1% of all new chemical entities were for neglected
diseases -- and none was suitable for the 17 neglected tropical diseases (B.
Pedrique et al. Lancet Glob. Health 1, e371-e379; 2013). Increased funding
and better coordination will help, but what is really needed is a
greater global incentive for needs-driven R&D.

To fulfil the working group's criteria, the WHO pilot projects need
better coordination, optimization of research and accelerated delivery of
tools. This will be achieved only by strengthening capacity,
testing innovative or pooled financing, developing an open-knowledge
approach, and unlinking R&D costs from the end price of products.

Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative, Geneva, Switzerland.
Bernard Pécoul

Médecins Sans Frontières, Geneva, Switzerland.
Manica Balasegaram

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