The first comprehensive survey of global spending on neglected disease R&D, published in this week's PLoS Medicine, finds that just over $US 2.5 billion was invested into R&D of new products in 2007, with three diseasesHIV/AIDS, TB, and malariareceiving nearly 80% of the total.
However, the survey finds that many neglected diseases, responsible for killing millions of people in developing countries, are significantly underfunded.
Researchers from The George Institute report that while HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria collectively received the majority of R&D funding, other diseases and disease categories each received less than 5% of global funding.
Sleeping sickness, leishmaniasis and Chagas disease collectively received only 4.9% of total global funding; the diarrhoeal illnesses surveyed collectively received 4.5% of global funding; the helminth (worm) infections received 2%; and bacterial pneumonia and meningitis received only 1.3%. Five diseases - leprosy, Buruli ulcer, trachoma, rheumatic fever, and typhoid and paratyphoid fever each received less than $10 million or 0.4% of total global investment. For many of these diseases, funding was not enough to create even one new product.
The need for R&D to develop new drugs and vaccines for preventing and treating neglected tropical infections in developing countries is widely accepted. For example, the creation of a vaccine for HIV/AIDS, more effective tools to diagnose TB, and better drug treatments for leishmaniasis and sleeping sickness would greatly improve health in the developing world. However, there has until now been an "information gap" for funders wishing to invest in this area.
In the new survey by Dr Mary Moran (The George Institute for International Health, Sydney, Australia) and colleagues, commissioned by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the researchers set out to fill this information gap. While specific R&D investment data were previous
|Contact: Andrew Hyde|
Public Library of Science