EU Round Table on Neglected Diseases
The lack of research and development for neglected diseases - Public leadership for sustainable solutions
17 September 2002
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.
September 19, 2002 from 1.00 till 5.00 pm.
European Parliament, room A3H1, Brussels
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
Fatal Imbalance: the Crisis in Research and Development for Drugs for
Neglected Diseases. By Nathan Ford, Access to Essential Medicines Campaign,
"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."
A plea for Public Leadership.
Intervention on the role for Europe by Dr Dorette Corbey, MEP
(see document "medicines in a Global Context" on www.corbey.nl)
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."
Intervention by Commissioner Ph. Busquin
Comments, discussion and debate among the round table participants,
chaired by Dorette Corbey including
intervention by Commissioner Erkki Liikanen, DG Enterprise.
Conclusions and recommendations
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
Rue de la Tourelle, 39
Dr. Dorette Corbey
Member of the European Parliament
Rue Wiertz ASP G5 315
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
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
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.