Neglected Tropical Diseases: Gates Celebrates Industry Contribution, Chan Concurs 19/04/2017 by Catherine Saez, Intellectual Property Watch 1 Comment Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Five years after health institutions and actors including pharmaceutical companies endorsed the London Declaration on Neglected Tropical Diseases, meant to support the World Health Organization to control and eradicate 10 specific diseases by 2020, new commitments were announced today (18 April) in Geneva. The Uniting to Combat Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) coalition, in collaboration with the World Health Organization, is organising the NTD Summit 2017, from 19-22 April. The Uniting to Combat NTDs coalition was set up to fulfil the London Declaration‘s commitments. Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation-hosted high-level event on NTDs Today, an event hosted by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation celebrated the progress made on the declaration and praised the efforts carried out by endorsers of the London Declaration, and in particular pharmaceutical companies. The London Declaration concerns the following diseases: Chagas disease, Guinea worm disease, human African trypanosomiasis or sleeping sickness, leprosy, lymphatic filariasis, onchocerciasis or river blindness, schistosomiasis, soil-transmitted helminths, trachoma and visceral leishmaniasis – a list of unfriendly names for debilitating health conditions mostly affecting poor populations in developing countries. New Pledges The Gates Foundation committed US$335 million in grants over the next four years to support diverse neglected tropical diseases (NTD) programmes focussing on drug development and delivery, disease surveillance and vector control, according to a press release of the Uniting to Combat NTDs. The Belgian government pledged an additional US$27 million, spread over the next nine years, toward the elimination of sleeping sickness in the Democratic Republic of Congo. This amount will be matched for the next three years by the Gates Foundation, said the release. Earlier this week, the United Kingdom announced a pledge of close to US$450 million over 5 years to support NTD control and elimination, the release said. Bill Gates, speaking today, praised the “incredible commitment” of pharmaceutical companies, in particular the large-scale donation of medicines by 10 companies, and the success of the initiative. Bill Gates, Co-Chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation He said diseases are being eradicated in several countries, such as trachoma in Morocco, and lymphatic filariasis in six countries, while Guatemala has been the fourth Latin American country to be declared free of river blindness. He said innovation is still needed, although he underlined progress made in diagnostics and medications. A dozen pharmaceutical companies reaffirmed their 2012 pledge in a statement [pdf] released today, committing to provide donations, and research and development (R&D). Separately, the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA) released a report [pdf] today entitled, Doing our part: Innovating to Fight Neglected Tropical Diseases. The report describes the R&D pipeline for NTDs on the list of the London Declaration, but also includes chikungunya and dengue. Some 109 active R&D projects for NTDs are ongoing, according to the report, underlining that over 90 percent of the active R&D projects are collaborative efforts. During the event today, industry CEOs, such as Eisai, Novartis, and Pfizer pledged additional efforts. Haruo Naito, CEO of Eisai, said the company provides a free supply of medicines to treat lymphatic filariasis – one billion [corrected] tablets to 28 countries – and has committed to produce 2.2 billion [corrected] tablets by 2020. Eisai now decided it will produce free medicines to treat lymphatic filariasis until the eradication of the disease. Beyond medicines, Naito said the commitment of local governments and their collaboration is key to the success of getting the medicines to people. Joe Jimenez, Novartis CEO, said even though the incidence of leprosy has been reduced by about 95 percent, there are still 200,000 new cases each year, so the company decided to add new tools to get to the final level of elimination of leprosy. Ian Read, CEO of Pfizer said that over the last five years the company donated 600,000,000 doses of a medicines against trachoma and will continue until the disease is eradicated. NTD Guinness World Record Today, the Uniting to Combat NTDs coalition was awarded the Guinness World Record for medicines donation. On the 5th anniversary date of the London Declaration, on 30 January 2017, Uniting to Combat NTDs decided to celebrate their mission by setting a record of the most medicines donated in 24 hours, Marco Frigatti of the Guinness World Record, said today at the event. On 30 January 2017, some 207,169,292 medication doses to treat NTDs were donated. Companies which donated drugs for NTDs were: Bayer, Eisai, Gilead, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Merck, Novartis, Pfizer and Sanofi, according to the Uniting to Combat NTDs coalition. WHO Director General Cheers Gates, Industry WHO Director General Margaret Chan described the newly awarded Guinness World Record as “amazing,” and commended the pharmaceutical companies for their leadership and their contribution. She also applied the adjective to the London Declaration and to the “amazing Bill Gates.” WHO Director General Margaret Chan “The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation believes that every life has equal value,” she said, adding “Bill and Melinda have done amazing things for the world.” The London Declaration illustrates the power of partnerships, she said, adding that investment in global health produces results. “I believe in innovation,” Chan said, including in drugs, diagnostics, and in information and communication technology. In 2015, some 1 billion people were reached, she said, so the pharmaceutical companies have given the WHO “a lot of ammunition.” “As the Director General of WHO… we need to navigate very carefully in the landmine,” she said. “NGOs [non-governmental organisations], some countries, criticise the WHO,” she said, and ask “why are you working with the industry?” Not working with the industry means that “you don’t have innovation, you don’t have the solutions to help people,” she added. “So let’s put that rhetoric aside,” she advised, “and learn from the NTDs partnership.” WHO 4th Report on NTDs The WHO is issuing its 4th report on NTDs [pdf], reviewing the progress made towards achieving the roadmap targets for 2020, and considering the remaining challenges. According to the report, much has been achieved but significant challenges remain. In particular, NTD programmes “continue to struggle” with limited financial resources and inadequate capacity. The report underlines the “tremendous progress” made in terms of delivering preventive chemotherapy to people. In 2015, the report says, some 1 billion people received preventive chemotherapy for at least one disease. The report also notes that WHO “is increasing access to new treatments by promoting the de-linkage of end product pricing from research costs, as recommended by the Consultative Expert Working Group on Research and Development: Financing and Coordination [a WHO expert group working on R&D for NTDs].” “A positive consequence has been the establishment of WHO’s Global Observatory on Health Research and Development to help identify priorities and direct investments.” The WHO Executive Board meeting in January underlined a funding gap of over US$70 million to finalised the development of the Global Observatory, launched in January, and implement five R&D projects (IPW, WHO, 31 January 2017). The issue of the general absence of R&D on NTDs, which has been discussed for years at the WHO, was not mentioned during the event. Image Credits: Catherine Saez Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Related Catherine Saez may be reached at email@example.com."Neglected Tropical Diseases: Gates Celebrates Industry Contribution, Chan Concurs" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.