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Pharmas, Foundations, Agencies Partner on Tropical Diseases

River blindness (


In London yesterday, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, 13 pharmaceutical companies, three governments, the World Bank and global health agencies announced a new plan to eliminate or control 10 neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) by 2020. The effort announced at an event at the Royal College of Physicians is aimed at 1.4 billion people living in NTD-endemic countries.

Commitments from the partners is intended to close the funding gap to eradicate Guinea worm disease and expedite progress toward eliminating lymphatic filariasis, blinding trachoma, sleeping sickness and leprosy, and control of soil-transmitted helminthes, schistosomiasis, river blindness, Chagas disease and visceral leishmaniasis. Some US$785 million in total commitments are expected to support R&D efforts and strengthen drug distribution and implementation.

The pharmaceutical companies taking part include Abbott, AstraZeneca, Bayer, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Eisai, Gilead, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Merck, MSD, Novartis, Pfizer and Sanofi. Combining new and existing pledges, the companies plan to donate an average of 1.4 billion treatments each year to those in need. New research and development efforts and access agreements with companies and the R&D organization Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi) are expected to provide access to compound libraries that could lead to new treatments.

The Gates Foundation announced a five-year, $363 million commitment to support NTD product and operational research. The United Arab Emirates, Gates Foundation, and the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation will donate $40 million to The Carter Center in Atlanta that has health program aimed at eliminating NTDs.

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) also announced an $89 million appropriation by the U.S. Congress to strengthen drug delivery and distribution. The World Bank says it will extend its financing and technical support to help African countries build stronger community health systems and work with other partners to expand a trust fund to combat river blindness in Africa. The U.K. government had already committed $20 million in October 2011.

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