Priority Medicines for Europe and the World 2013 Update. Background Paper 6 - Priority Diseases and Reasons for Inclusion. BP 6.09 - Neglected Tropical Diseases
(2013; 69 pages)


Neglected tropical diseases cause immense suffering and death, mostly in the poorest regions of the world, resulting in a substantial socio-economic burden. A huge medical need exists for appropriate treatments, vaccines and diagnostics for such diseases. There is a significant lack of translation from early stage scientific research into real products for patients and impossible barriers for some products and technologies to become affordable for the poor people most affected by these diseases. Access to the solutions that exist is also limited. The Research and Development (R&D) pipeline has been more populated in the last few years, than ever before, although movement to real products and thereafter control, elimination, or eradication is limited. Two reasons account for this neglect: (a) market failure and (b) a failure of public policy to correct this perverse logic of "no money – no cure".
Redressing this imbalance requires public responsibility and commitment to the:

1. Development of a global needs-driven (as opposed to market-based) essential health R&D agenda for neglected tropical diseases, and;

2. Creation of appropriate mechanisms, incentives and monitors to allow the effective implementation of such an agenda towards sustainable, achievable solutions for these neglected tropical diseases.

Developing a needs-based R&D agenda for neglected diseases is an essential first step, but current practice in prioritising pharmaceutical research does not meet this goal. This paper explores various criteria to help identify and characterise neglect, which could guide priority setting in building an essential health R&D agenda for neglected tropical diseases.

The first part of this paper addresses the needs of the agenda, the health tools available and what is currently being done in the area of neglected tropical disease R&D and programmatic interventions.

The second section of this paper uses the examples of visceral leishmaniasis, Buruli ulcer and schistosomiasis with a needs-based approach to drafting an essential health research agenda. For each disease, we provide a concrete list of high-priority research projects to be initiated, with tangible results for patients.

The third and final section of the paper suggests gaps that could make a difference to reducing the burden on the affected populations by accelerating the research and development of new solutions to these diseases.

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