EU Round Table on Neglected Diseases

The lack of research and development for neglected diseases - Public leadership for sustainable solutions
September 19 BACKGROUND Communicable diseases killed 14 million people worldwide in 1999, mostly in developing countries. Effective, affordable and easy-to-use medicines to fight many of these diseases are all-but absent. Although progress was made in the field of science and technology, only 1% of new drugs developed in the last 25 years are for tropical infectious diseases. While many factors contribute to the inadequacy of infectious disease control in developing countries, the need for the urgent development of effective drugs and therapeutics is universally accepted. Lack of scientific knowledge is not the major barrier to drug development; nor does the gap lie with technology, which has greatly benefited from recent advances. But new strategies are required. Without serious political commitment advances in science and medicine will contribute nothing to alleviating the suffering of the millions who die of neglected diseases in the developing world. Poverty related diseases have been neglected because they are not health priorities for governments that have funds to invest in research, and do not represent markets for the multinational-based pharmaceutical industry. Public leadership is needed for the translation of knowledge into actual benefits for patients.
The Round Table will address the role of Europe in promoting research and development for neglected diseases. The MSF point will be that without serious political commitment, advances in science and medicine will contribute little or nothing to alleviating the suffering of the millions who die of neglected diseases in the developing world. AGENDA: September 19, 2002 from 1.00 till 5.00 pm. European Parliament, room A3H1, Brussels 1.00 PM: Opening statement by Anders Wijkman, MEP Welcome of the participants by Mrs. Dorette Corbey - MEP and Mr. Rafael Vila San Juan, International Secretary of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF). 1.10 PM: Fatal Imbalance: the Crisis in Research and Development for Drugs for Neglected Diseases. By Nathan Ford, Access to Essential Medicines Campaign, MSF. "Of the 1393 new medicines developed between 1975 and 1999, less than 1% (13 drugs) were indicated for a tropical disease. Less than 10 per cent of the worldwide expenditure on health research and development (R&D) is devoted to the major health problems of 90 per cent of the population. Lack of scientific knowledge is not the major barrier to drug development; nor does the gap lie with technology, which has greatly benefited from recent advances. Policy issues are the main obstacle to the translation of this knowledge into actual benefit for patients. While basic science research takes place in the university or government laboratories, drug development is done almost exclusively by the pharmaceutical industry. The selection of promising candidate drugs by pharma is based on potential profits for the company and its shareholders, not global public health concerns." 1.30 PM A plea for Public Leadership. Intervention on the role for Europe by Dr Dorette Corbey, MEP (see document "medicines in a Global Context" on 1.45 PM: Three speakers will comment the analysis and present different types of recommendations and proposals for change: Ensuring the Development of Adequate Health Tools for Neglected Patients: Balancing Public Responsibility and Initiative, by Els Torreele, PhD. Co-Chair Drugs for Neglected Diseases Working Group, Access to Essential Medicines Campaign, MSF. "In recent years, a variety of public policy measures are proposed to revive R&D efforts for neglected diseases. In most cases, these consists of market-based incentives for the pharmaceutical industry such as tax credits or strengthened patent protection, geared towards profit driven private investment. However, it is doubtful whether these can provide an answer for the truly neglected diseases: a market monopoly incentive is irrelevant when market prospects are absent. For some diseases, notably HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria, public-private partnerships have been established, combining capacities and resources of the public and private sector. While all such efforts are necessary, their impact is likely to be insufficient to meet the vast and increasing health needs of poor people in the developing world. A new, more creative and more courageous approach is needed." On the Possible Role of Public Research in Developing Medicines that Address the World's Medical Needs: Overcoming Current Barriers and Constraints. (Public Researcher invited) Breaking The Cycle of Dependency: Platforms for Pharmaceutical Development and Production in the Less Developed World. by Dr. Giorgio Roscigno. "Central to the undertaking (of answering to the lack of R&D) is the need to create relevant capacities and know-how in affected Countries to research, develop and manufacture priority essential medicines. Technology transfer and capacity building are therefore critical to a sustainable solution of access to currently needed drugs and the first necessary steps in creating an enabling environment for a South homed pharmaceutical research and development platform for Neglected Diseases." 3.00 PM: Intervention by Commissioner Ph. Busquin 3.30 PM: Comments, discussion and debate among the round table participants, chaired by Dorette Corbey including intervention by Commissioner Erkki Liikanen, DG Enterprise. 4.45 PM: Conclusions and recommendations 5.15 PM: Press conference - Restricted Participation - invitation only. Agenda is listed below: For further information and registration, please contact: Ms. Seco Gerard MSF Access Campaign EU Liaison Officer MSF, International Office 32.2 234.62.52 Rue de la Tourelle, 39 1040 Brussels Dr. Dorette Corbey Member of the European Parliament Rue Wiertz ASP G5 315 1047 Brussels tel. mobile 31.626.16.83.72 fax.