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Studies detail triumphs, troubles of African innovators creating products for local health needs

atory approval in Nigeria, partnered with US-based firm XeChem, demonstrated clinical efficacy and safety, and were awarded valuable "orphan" drug status by the US Food and Drug Administration.

Niprisan failed to achieve mainstream success, however, due to a number of problems, such as insufficient manufacturing capacity, quality control issues, pricing and distribution, and lack of financing. Today, NIPRD is considering options for another commercial partner to take the drug forward.

The paper cites five key lessons learned for policy-makers and entrepreneurs:

  • Make benefit-sharing agreements with traditional medical healers whose knowledge is used.

  • Seek partners to fill gaps in knowledge and technical expertise.

  • Subsidize clinically-proven new drugs derived from traditional medicines, where the disease is endemic to a region and good alternative treatments are lacking.

  • Institute standardization and quality control measures in drug manufacturing, especially for traditional medicines, the potency and effectiveness of which can be influenced by the raw materials involved (i.e. plant material quality, age, time of harvest, location, soil quality, preparation, handling, etc.).

  • Train skilled entrepreneurial leaders to manage partnerships, recruit talented professionals, approach government for funding, and handle the missteps and breakthroughs that go along with early stage drug development.

Venture funding for science-based African health innovation

Authors Hassan Masum, Justin Chakma, Ken Simiyu, Wesley Ronoh, Abdallah S Daar and Peter A. Singer describe case studies of five health venture funds based in the developing world, and suggest lessons.

The five funds included publicly-owned organizations, corporations, social enterprises, and subsidiaries of foreign venture firms. Three funds aimed primarily for financial returns

Contact: Terry Collins
McLaughlin-Rotman Centre for Global Health

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