11th annual G-FINDER report shows consistent growth of the biopharmaceutical industry investment in neglected diseases

Published on: 23 January 2019

Geneva, 23 January 2019: IFPMA, the global R&D biopharmaceutical industry association, welcomes the 11th G-FINDER report[i] which tracks public, private and philanthropic investment into product R&D for neglected diseases, which predominantly affect the developing countries.

As with previous years, the report shows Bio-pharmaceutical industry investment as the third largest funder, after the USA’s National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Gates Foundation. The contribution amount to USD 554m to neglected disease R&D in 2017, accounting for 16% of total global funding. About 80% (USD 445m) of the industry investment can be attributed to major research-based biopharmaceutical companies[1]. For this latest report, there were new participants to the survey, which reflects the willingness of numerous pharmaceutical companies to be accountable and showcase progress made so far. The report notes that industry investment should continue to grow as products are moving from discovery to late-stage clinical trials.

Taking steps to reduce the toll of neglected diseases takes long-term and wide-ranging commitment from governments, civil society and businesses. Our industry is playing its part to accelerate the elimination or control of these diseases through the discovery of new treatments via innovative mechanisms, including product development partnerships (PDPs), IP sharing and open innovation. Our investment can only be guaranteed if there is sustained public and philanthropic commitment. We recognize the key role that the US NIH and the Gates Foundation play as key drivers, and welcome the increased commitments from a range of emerging funders from LMICs, such as India and South Africa,” said Thomas Cueni, Director General, IFPMA.

The biopharmaceutical industry continues to focus their investments on HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis. However, the report also notes a notable increase in pharmaceutical companies investment for diarrhoeal disease R&D (up $11m, 80%), on the back of new investment in vaccines for shigellosis (up $7.3m, 132%) and rotavirus (up $3.1m, 58%).

The G-Finder report highlights several significant new product approvals in 2017 that the R&D biopharmaceutical industry has contributed towards. Noteworthy innovations include: fexinidazole, the first all-oral, short course treatment for both stages of sleeping sickness; moxidectin, the first new onchocerciasis treatment in 20 years; tafenoquine, the first single-dose radical cure for P. vivax malaria; Typbar TCV, the first conjugate typhoid vaccine; and ROTASIIL, a heat-stable rotavirus vaccine designed for developing country use.

Biopharmaceutical companies also provide in-kind contributions that are specifically targeted to neglected disease R&D. Although difficult to quantify, these inputs are of substantial value to their recipients, and may represent a significant cost to companies. This includes sharing intellectual property assets such as research data on compounds and giving access to research facilities, in addition hosting scientists and provide training, forgoing license or providing royalty-free license on co-developed products. It also includes transfer of technology, and building technical expertise to develop, manufacture, register and distribute products for neglected diseases. Such actions are also complemented with donations, preferential pricing, and capacity building.

Ending suffering from neglected diseases is achievable, and IFPMA member companies tackle this challenge in a holistic manner. The G-FINDER report though comprehensive but only captures the R&D investments. Research-based biopharmaceutical companies also provide considerable in-kind contributions that are specifically targeted to neglected diseases R&D. In January 2012, the industry pledged 14 billion donated treatments to control or eliminate the ten neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) responsible for more than 90% of the global NTD burden (see London Declaration). Year on year, biopharmaceutical companies have met their commitments; 1.8 billion treatments were donated in 2016 alone[i]. IFPMA companies are also engaged in partnerships to strengthen health system capacities and improve public awareness on disease prevention.

[1] Listed in the G-FINDER report as multinational companies “MNCs”.

[i] Each year since 2007, the G-FINDER project has provided policy-makers, donors, researchers and industry with a comprehensive analysis of global investment into research and development (R&D) of new products to prevent, diagnose, control or cure neglected diseases in developing countries. It provides an up-to-date analysis of how R&D investments are being allocated across diseases and product types, funding trends over time, and where the potential gaps lie.

[i] This unprecedented global partnership has been recognized in the Guinness Book of Records for the most medication donated within 24 hours.