[Ip-health] IP-Watch: WHO Wrestles With Plan To Pursue R&D For Neglected Diseases

Thiru Balasubramaniam thiru at keionline.org
Fri May 23 07:15:30 PDT 2014


WHO Wrestles With Plan To Pursue R&D For Neglected Diseases

Published on 23 May 2014 @ 3:20 pm

By William New <http://www.ip-watch.org/author/william/>, Intellectual
Property Watch

World Health Organization members today are expected to address a proposal
on future efforts to find a solution to the longstanding problem of
sustainable funding for research into diseases predominantly afflicting
poor populations. An effort to close the topic yesterday was delayed when a
proposal was put forward that named a WHO department as the potential host
of the future activities on this issue.

The work is taking place in committee at the annual World Health Assembly,
which is meeting from 19-24 May.

The Assembly is asked to consider a report on the WHO Consultative Expert
Working Group on Research and Development: Financing and Coordination
(CEWG). This group is an outgrowth of years of negotiations at WHO.

A draft decision circulated to a few member states and read out to the
committee addressing the issue was not accepted yesterday, as other members
requested to see the document in writing before giving their approval. The
draft decision was being worked on in a side room today, according to a
source, and is expected to come up again later.

The initial draft decision is reprinted below, and was circulated this
morning as documentA67/B/CONF./2<http://apps.who.int/gb/ebwha/pdf_files/WHA67/A67_BCONF2-en.pdf>

*Report on CEWG*

The report on CEWG is in WHA document
which includes a report on work mandated by the past Assembly, including
setting up a Global Health Research and Development Observatory for
collecting and sharing information, on which the secretariat said work has
begun. This includes some mapping of stakeholders, work on databases, and
holding of consultations.

The document includes a reference to pooled funding, and states that the
next step in the search for alternative R&D financing, if member states
decide to pursue the possibility of a pooled fund, would be to determine
whether any of the most-qualified organisations would be willing to take on
such a task. The draft decision takes that step forward.

A second related document
describes four health R&D demonstration projects that were chosen from a
much longer list of possibilities. Four other projects were listed as
possible and will be further examined in a future meeting. The document
provides the indicators used to select the projects, and for future
measurement of success. The draft decision endorses the indicators.

*Pooled Fund and Draft Decision*

Yesterday, many countries stated support for the CEWG documents, and
several countries, including Switzerland, Brazil and Kenya, announced they
would donate to the pooled fund.

But the draft decision caught some members by surprise. India was named as
a cosponsor of the draft decision document, but today the paper names
France and Switzerland as the sponsors.

Item four of the draft decision proposes an assessment of a “pooled fund
for voluntary contributions,” and requests the secretariat to “further
explore the option with TDR, take appropriate action, and submit a report”
to next year’s Assembly.

TDR is the WHO Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical
Diseases. TDR published an article this month on “New R&D models in
neglected diseases under review.” The article, which describes the new
proposals set out by TDR, is available

Concerns raised included a lack of transparency in the process, and that
involving TDR might limit the scope of diseases addressed by the WHO
efforts on R&D for uneconomical diseases to only those considered
“tropical,” a small group than previously referenced. There was also
concern that this way forward might narrow the larger vision of finding a
truly sustainable new way to finance R&D. And some members questioned
whether the pooled fund should be voluntary.

Some of these concerns were addressed yesterday by the WHO secretariat,
which said for instance that it would not be limited to TDR’s current
scope. But members still requested more time to consider the draft decision.

The Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi), which will carry out
one of the four approved demonstration projects (on leishmaniasis) has
shown support for the idea of TDR hosting the efforts.

“Through this project, we really want to demonstrate some innovative
mechanism to finance and coordinate R&D, Alexandra Heumber, head of policy
affairs at DNDi, told *Intellectual Property Watch*.

DNDi says TDR could be the potential host of the pooled fund upon
conditions, appropriate governance, geographic scope should be low and
MICs, and not just NTDs, and transparency.

“We also agree that nothing should be locked into this pooled fund,”
Heumber said, and that the other discussions are ongoing.

*Demonstration Projects*

There were eight accepted demonstration projects put forward by the CEWG,
after some of the more ambitious ones – such as an R&D treaty – were cut in
a late-night meeting. Four projects are already underway, and many members
yesterday raised their interest in the next four demonstration projects
proceeding quickly to acceptance.

The first four approved demonstration projects are:

1) The Visceral Leishmaniasis (VL) Global R&D & Access Initiative
(proponent: Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative)

2) Exploiting the pathogen box: an international open-source collaboration
to accelerate drug development in addressing diseases of poverty
(proponent: Medicines for Malaria Venture)

3) Development of Class D CpG oligodeoxynucleotides (D35) as an adjunct to
chemotherapy for cutaneous leishmaniasis and post kala-azar dermal
leishmaniasis (proponents: United States Food and Drug Administration et

4) Development for easy to use and affordable biomarkers as diagnostics for
types II and III diseases (proponents: African Network for Drugs and
Diagnostics Innovation et al.)

*Below is the First Text of Draft Decision on CEWG:*

WHA 67(xx) Follow-up of the report of the Consultative Expert Working Group
on Research and Development: Financing and Coordination

The Sixty-seventh World Health Assembly, having considered the reports on
the follow-up on the report of the Consultative Expert Working Group on
Research and Development: Financing and Coordination – Health research and
development demonstration projects[2]

(1) welcomes the progress made in implementation of resolution WHA66.22;

(2) notes the outcome of the review of the 7+1 short-listed demonstration
projects that took place in Geneva on 10 March 2014;

(3) welcomes the support provided by the Secretariat to the proponents of
the four selected demonstration projects.

(4) endorses the indicators to measure success in implementing the health
research and development demonstration projects; and

(5) notes the assessment of the possibility of using an existing mechanism
to host a pooled fund for voluntary contributions towards research and
development that disproportionately affect developing countries, and
requests the Director-General to further explore this option with TDR, take
appropriate action and submit a report to the sixty-eighth World Health

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