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Drug companies collaborate with governments, global health organizations to combat neglected tropical diseases

Monday, January 30 2012 | Comments
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Thirteen pharmaceutical firms joined in a collaborative effort with governments and global health organizations to accelerate progress toward the control or elimination of 10 "neglected tropical diseases" (NTDs) by the end of the decade.

In a statement, the group described the effort as the "largest coordinated effort to date to combat NTDs."

Targeted NTDs include diseases such as leprosy, Guinea worm disease, sleeping sickness, blinding trachoma, river blindness and Chagas disease. The NTDs the collaboration will work to control or eliminate affect more than 1 billion people and disproportionately affect residents of poor countries, the group said, adding that some of these diseases have no known treatments.

Together, the participants pledged to donate an average of 1.4 billion treatments per year to help patients with these NTDs and committed to provide more than $785 million to support research and development (R&D) efforts and to strengthen drug distribution and implementation programs.

In addition, multiple pharmaceutical companies and the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative, a not-for-profit R&D organization, agreed to collaborate on R&D efforts to develop new treatments and signed agreements that will grant access to their compound libraries to aid in this endeavor.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation pledged a five-year, $363 million commitment to support NTD product and operational research.

Participants from the pharmaceutical industry include Abbott, AstraZeneca Plc, Bayer HealthCare AG, Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., Eisai Co. Ltd., Gilead Sciences Inc., GlaxoSmithKline Plc, Johnson & Johnson, Merck & Co. Inc., Merck KGaA, Novartis AG, Pfizer Inc. and Sanofi.

Other collaborators include the governments of the United States, the United Kingdom and the United Arab Emirates; The World Bank Group; and the Children's Investment Fund Foundation.

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