FRIDAY, 8 JUNE 2012In total more than £500 million ($785 million) was pledged to improve drug distribution and to support research and development, including a significant $363 million donation from the Gates Foundation. The push for new treatments will also be helped by compound library sharing between 11 pharmaceutical companies, as well as product development partnerships between several companies. Pharmaceutical manufacturers also committed to increasing drug donations, bringing the average company donation to 1.4 billion treatments each year.
Guinea Worm is the most likely disease to be eradicated. Already on the verge of elimination, it is a crippling parasitic disease for which there are no effective drugs. Prevention strategies have reduced the incidence from an estimated 3.5 million cases in the mid-1980s to less than 1100 reported cases in 2011.
GlaxoSmithKline CEO Andrew Witty noted that "many companies and organisations have worked for decades to fight these horrific diseases. But no one company or organisation can do it alone. Today, we pledge to work hand-in-hand to revolutionise the way we fight these diseases.”
Announced at the Royal College of Physicians in London on 30 January, the declaration was inspired by the WHOs roadmap for elimination of NTDs. Bill Gates, who is credited with bringing so many large drug companies to the table, hoped that "Maybe as the decade goes on, people will wonder if these should be called neglected diseases. Maybe as the milestones go on, we will call them just tropical diseases."
Written by Luke Maishman