Policy Cures Research news
December 2017: Neglected Disease Research and Development 10th G-FINDER Report Launched
London, 13 December 2017 – The tenth annual G-FINDER report, launched today in London, finds that while global funding for neglected disease R&D increased in 2016 – for the first time since 2012 – efforts to develop new tools to tackle neglected infectious diseases are at risk because of an overreliance on just two funders: the US government and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
A total of $3.2 billion was invested globally in neglected disease R&D in 2016. This was an increase of $99 million over the previous year, largely due to a $78 million increase in funding from the US government. Although other public funders, philanthropic organisations and the pharmaceutical industry also contributed to the increase, the findings of this year’s G-FINDER report are a reminder that there is currently only one funder who can move the needle on global investment, according to the report’s lead author, Dr Nick Chapman. “Every increase or decrease in US government funding for neglected disease R&D over the last decade has been accompanied by a corresponding change in global funding levels,” he observed.
In 2016, the US government was the source of 47% of all global funding for neglected disease R&D, and 73% of all public sector funding. This means that the US government not only drives changes in global funding levels, but also that it heavily influences the focus of this investment. “US government funding is overwhelmingly focused on HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria; and on basic and early stage research, rather than clinical or field development and post registration studies,” explains Dr Chapman, “and this focus is carried over into the global funding picture.”
As well as the first increase in both US and global funding for neglected disease R&D since 2012, the G-FINDER report identified a number of other promising signs. One of these is the sustained growth of industry investment, which has increased in every one of the last five years, to a record high of $497 million in 2016. In recent years, most of this growth has come from small pharmaceutical and biotechnology firms (SMEs), in particular those from India. “These companies tend to have a different focus from multinational pharmaceutical companies, who invest most heavily in malaria, TB and HIV/AIDS,” according to Dr Chapman. “SMEs tend to fund R&D for bacterial pneumonia & meningitis, Salmonella infections and diarrhoeal diseases instead.”
In addition to SMEs, a number of other funders have been making a small but growing contribution in areas of need. Several global health initiatives, such as Unitaid, MSF and Gavi, have expanded their focus to include support for neglected disease R&D, while the Japanese government – along with Japanese pharmaceutical companies – is also increasingly investing in neglected disease product development following the establishment of the GHIT Fund in 2013. And investment from low- and middle-income country governments continues to increase, particularly from India, Brazil and South Africa. “In fact,” adds Dr Chapman, “India became the fourth largest government funder of neglected disease R&D globally in 2016, ahead of both France and Germany.”
However, despite the promising signs, the collective contribution of these non-traditional funders is still just a fraction of overall global funding. And while the Gates Foundation has consistently been relied on to balance the public sector focus on basic research with its investment in product development partnerships (PDPs) – it is the second largest funder globally, and has provided 55% of all funding to PDPs over the last decade – three-quarters of the Foundation’s funding over the last decade has been for malaria, HIV/AIDS and TB, and funding for PDPs fell to a record low in 2016.
“The world can ill afford to keep relying on the US government and the Gates Foundation to provide two-thirds of all global funding for neglected disease R&D over the next ten years, as they have done for the last decade,” concludes Dr Chapman.
For further information, please contact the Policy Cures Research team at +61 2 8218 2109 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
July 2017: Return on innovation: A smart investment for the US
On 20 July, a new report written by Policy Cures Research (PCR) with the Global Health Technologies Coalition (GHTC) was launched in Washington DC, examining the return on investment for the United States in supporting global health R&D.
The report explores the investments made and the role played by key US institutions such as USAID, the NIH, DoD and CDC. It explores the achievements that have already been made with the help of US investments, as well as how this investment has contributed to a pipeline of products to address global health needs.
The report finds that US government investment of around $14 billion in R&D for global health has been a smart investment, featuring several successful case-studies of US research investments to address diseases such as HIV/AIDS, TB, Ebola and meningitis. For example, US government support of the Meningitis Vaccine Project was instrumental in the development of MenAfriVac – the first ever conjugate vaccine against meningitis A, available at a price of just 50 cents a dose.
It notes that despite these successes, there is still a critical underinvestment globally in R&D to deliver urgently-needed drugs, vaccines, diagnostics and other tools for neglected diseases and health conditions – with investment in R&D for global health representing only around 1-2% of spending on health R&D each year.
The report concludes that the US government’s role in global health R&D is vital, and the benefits are clear. It finds that the US government investment plays an essential and catalytic role in developing new drugs, vaccines, diagnostics and other urgently-needed tools for neglected disease, delivering economic and security returns for Americans.
According to Dr Nick Chapman, Executive Director of Policy Cures Research “this report shows not only how critical the US is for global health R&D and the impact that has been achieved with its’ investment, but also how investing in global health R&D is good for the United States”.
For more information, contact Dr Nick Chapman, Executive Director, Policy Cures Research.
July 2017: Global health coalition call for action from the G20
The G20 will meet in Hamburg, Germany on the 7th and 8th July, 2017. With ‘Promoting Health’ set to be included as one of the priority topics on the meeting agenda, Policy Cures Research (PCR) has joined a coalition of global health organisation in calling for action from the G20 to promote R&D investment for global health.
The call – outlined in an open letter to the G20 leaders – welcomed the May 2017 G20 Health Minister’s Berlin Declaration “Healthy Today for a Healthy Tomorrow” (which highlighted the challenge of antimicrobial resistance and recommended reinvigorated R&D for antimicrobials to address HIV, Malaria, NTDs and the WHO priority pathogens), and gave five recommendations for the G20 leaders to further build on this promising start:
- to address key pathogens including HIV, TB, malaria and neglected tropical diseases as pathogens that need R&D to address antimicrobial resistance;
- to endorse the important features outlined in the Health Minister’s Berlin Declaration such as the leadership of the World Health Organization, the need for sustainable funding and importance of target product profiles, health systems strengthening and international R&D coordination, monitoring, evaluation and data;
- to increase political and financial support for global health R&D including for pandemic preparedness and response;
- to prioritise health and recognise the critical role of innovation;
- to reflect the importance of the Health Minister’s Declaration in the Hamburg Leader’s Declaration and include regular dialogue on addressing health threats to global security and economic development.
The G-FINDER report shows that in 2015, funding for neglected disease R&D (including to address antimicrobial resistance HIV, TB, malaria and neglected tropical diseases) fell to its lowest level since 2007, in contrast to the dramatic increase in investments for emerging infectious diseases such as Ebola (see figure 4 from the report). The G20 leaders now have a golden opportunity to commit to action to reverse this decline.
Source: 9th G-FINDER Report, funding for neglected disease R&D and for Ebola and other haemorragic fevers, Policy Cures Research, p. 18
For more information on promising new candidates currently in development for neglected diseases, see the Policy Cures Research pipeline.
For more information on the state of R&D funding for global health in the United States, on 20 July 2017, PATH will host a dialogue in Washington DC which will see the launch of a new report written by Policy Cures Research and the Global Health Technologies Coalition (GHTC). The report examines the return on investment for the United States in supporting global health R&D.
June 2017: ASEAN Dengue Day
On the seventh annual ASEAN Dengue Day, 15th June 2017, Policy Cures Research highlights the pressing need for further R&D funding to deliver new drugs, diagnostics and vector control products for dengue.
Dengue is transmitted by the female Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquito and is now present in more than 100 countries, up from just 9 as recently as fifty years ago 
Also referred to as breakbone fever, dengue causes a severe flu-like illness. Dengue haemorrhagic fever, its most severe form, is a leading cause of illness and death in children in Asia. In 2015, dengue was responsible for an estimated 34,514 deaths globally, including 18,298 deaths and 1.9 million DALYs in developing countries. [3,4]
Dengue differs from many other tropical diseases in that there is some degree of commercial market due to its prevalence in high- and middle-income countries across Asia and Latin America, as well as demand from travellers and the military. This market helped spur the development of the first-ever dengue vaccine – Dengvaxia (CDY-TDV) – which has been approved for use by more than 10 countries worldwide since it was first registered in 2015.
Unfortunately, other product areas remain neglected. Currently there is no curative treatment available for dengue; management is focused instead on control of transmission and therapy to minimise dehydration or shock from haemorrhagic fever. Diagnostics appropriate for low-resource settings that can detect early-stage disease and distinguish between dengue and other causes of fever are also urgently needed. And developing new and improved vector control tools will be critical if we are to achieve the objectives outlined in the WHO global strategy for dengue prevention and control.
The latest G-FINDER report, published by Policy Cures Research, shows some positive signs: funding for dengue R&D increased for the second year in a row in 2015, to a total of $99.7 million. But investment in dengue R&D, and particularly in product development-focused R&D, remains woefully inadequate: most dengue R&D funding in 2015 was for basic research ($42m, 42%), followed by vector control products ($24m, 23%) and drug development (23m, 23%), while diagnostics received just $5m (5%).
Figure i: Dengue R&D funding by product type (FY 2007 – 2015) Source: 9th G-FINDER Report, Policy Cures Research, p. 37
About: G-FINDER is the most comprehensive source of data on global funding for neglected disease R&D. For more information and analysis on financing trends in neglected diseases such as TB, leprosy and trachoma, see the full 2016 G-FINDER report. For more information on promising new candidates currently in development for neglected diseases such as dengue, see the Policy Cures Research pipeline.
 WHO Fact Sheet, April 2017 http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs117/en/
 WHO Dengue vaccine position paper, July 2016 http://www.who.int/wer/2016/wer9130.pdf?ua=1
 Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. GBD Results Tool. [2016 Oct 27]. Available from: http://www.healthdata.org/institute-health-metrics-and-evaluation
 World Health Organisation (WHO). Global Health Estimates 2015: Deaths by Cause, Age, Sex, by Country and by Region, 2000-2015. Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization; 2016 [cited 2017 Jun 14]. Available from: http://www.who.int/healthinfo/global_burden_disease/estimates/en/
May 2017: 10th G-FINDER survey opens
On 30 May 2017, Policy Cures Research launched the 10th annual G-FINDER survey. Sent to nearly 1000 organisations globally each year, the G-FINDER survey collects data on investment in research and development (R&D) aimed at delivering new drugs, vaccines, diagnostics, vector control products, and related health technologies for neglected diseases.
Data collected in the G-FINDER survey is used by Policy Cures Research to create detailed analytical reports on neglected disease R&D funding, including the annual G-FINDER report, which provides a comprehensive overview of the global landscape of R&D investment in neglected diseases, including how funding trends are changing over time. G-FINDER is the primary source of neglected disease R&D funding data for both the World Health Organization’s Global Observatory on Health R&D and Donor Tracker, and helps support the work of many other groups in the broader global health community.
In 2017, the G-FINDER survey includes 33 neglected diseases (such as leprosy, Buruli ulcer, trachoma and leptospirosis) and the pharmaceutical tools used to prevent, control and treat them, including drugs, preventive and therapeutic vaccines, diagnostics, microbicides and vector control products. The G-FINDER survey encompasses R&D funding for these products from basic research through to the trials needed to introduce a product for public health use, detailed in the G-FINDER neglected disease R&D Matrix.
To participate in the G-FINDER survey or to find out more, please contact the G-FINDER help-desk.
May 2017: Tracking global investment in R&D for emerging infectious diseases
In conjunction with the G-FINDER survey, Policy Cures Research is pleased to announce the launch of the first ever comprehensive survey of global investment in R&D for emerging infectious diseases. In addition to collecting data on investment in R&D for neglected diseases, the 2017 survey will also collect data on investment in R&D for ten priority emerging infectious diseases. Made in consultation with the G-FINDER Advisory Committee, the decision to expand our data collection efforts builds on the inclusion of Ebola and other African viral haemorrhagic fevers in recent G-FINDER surveys. The decision reflects the increasing global focus on R&D to address the threat posed by EIDs, and the need for a comprehensive landscape of investment in this field. Investment in R&D for emerging infectious diseases will be analysed and reported separately to investment in R&D for neglected diseases.
To participate in the survey or to find out more, please contact the G-FINDER help-desk.
April 2017: World Malaria Day
On World Malaria Day, 25 April 2017, Policy Cures Research highlights the vital need for investment in malaria R&D to deliver new drugs, diagnostics, vaccines and vector control products.
Malaria is a parasitic disease transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito. The two most common types of malaria are caused by Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax. Left untreated, malaria can cause severe illness and death, with children and pregnant women being the most vulnerable (70% of malaria deaths are children under five years of age) (World Malaria Report, 2016). Despite progress in reduced cases over the past decades, malaria continues to have a devastating impact. Malaria caused more than 56 million disability adjusted life years (DALYs) and at least 730,290 deaths in low- and middle-income countries in 2015 (IHME, 2016).
New malaria drugs and vector control products are needed in response to the emergence of resistance to artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACT) and pyrethroids. Cheap, sensitive and specific rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) are available, but their quality and heat stability can be problematic. The 9th annual G-FINDER report, launched February 2017, showed that malaria received $565m in R&D funding in 2015. Nearly two-thirds of all malaria R&D funding went to developing new drugs ($238m, 42%) or vaccines ($128m, 23%), with a further quarter ($128m, 23%) going to basic research. Vector control products ($32m, 5.7%) and diagnostics ($15m, 2.6%) received significantly smaller investments.
Figure i: Malaria R&D funding 2007 – 2015 Source: 9th G-FINDER Report, Policy Cures Research, p. 28
About: G-FINDER is the most comprehensive source of data on global funding for neglected disease R&D. For more information and analysis on financing trends in neglected diseases such as TB, leprosy and trachoma, see the full 2016 G-FINDER report. For more information on promising new candidates currently in development for neglected diseases including malaria, see the Policy Cures Research pipeline.
April 2017: R&D for Chagas’ disease
On World Chagas Day, 14th April 2017, Policy Cures Research highlights the pressing need for R&D funding to deliver new drugs, diagnostics and vaccines for Chagas’ disease.
First described by Carlos Justiniano Ribeiro Chagas in 1909, Chagas’ disease, also known as American trypanosomiasis, is a kinetoplastid caused by the parasite Trypanosoma cruzi (or T. cruzi).
Chagas’ disease is primarily transmitted by the blood-sucking triatomine bug species, but can also be transmitted from mother to child and through blood and organ transfusions. In 2015, Chagas’ disease caused an estimated 8,047 deaths globally, disproportionately affecting people in developing countries. An estimated 236,131 Disability Adjusted Life Years (DALYs) were attributed to Chagas’ disease in 2015, the vast majority of which were also in developing countries.
Chagas needs preventive and therapeutic vaccines; safe, effective drugs that are suitable for children; treatments for the chronic form of the disease; and diagnostics that can reliably detect chronic disease and monitor treatment in low resource settings. The two drugs currently used (benznidazole and nifurtimox) are toxic, lack specificity and require multiple dosing for several months, increasing the likelihood of non-compliance and drug resistance. A childhood benznidazole formulation was registered in Brazil in 2011, and the only drug in clinical development is an azole/benznidazole combination for chronic Chagas’ disease. The latest G-FINDER report launched by Policy Cures Research, found that $18m was invested into Chagas’ disease research and development globally in 2015. Investments included $8.2m for drugs, $7.2m for basic research, 1.2m for vaccines and $1.2m for diagnostics.
Figure i: Chagas’ disease R&D funding by product type FY 2015 Source: 9th G-FINDER Report, Policy Cures Research, p. 35
About: G-FINDER is the most comprehensive source of data on global funding for neglected disease R&D. For more information and analysis on financing trends in neglected diseases such as TB, leprosy and trachoma, see the full 2016 G-FINDER report. For more information on promising new candidates currently in development for neglected diseases including Chagas’ disease, see the Policy Cures Research pipeline.
March 2017: R&D crucial in the fight against TB
On World TB Day, 24 March 2017, Policy Cures Research highlights the critical need for R&D funding to deliver new drugs, diagnostics and vaccines for tuberculosis (TB).
In 2015, TB was responsible for more than 1.1 million deaths globally. But with just 1% of these deaths occurring in high-income countries, global investment in TB R&D remains woefully inadequate. Just two new TB drugs have been developed in the last 50 years; current drug regimens are complex, often ineffective, and can require up to 2 years of treatment, fuelling drug resistance and treatment failure. New and affordable diagnostics are also urgently needed. The World Health Organization reports “more than a third (4.3 million) of people with TB go undiagnosed or unreported”. The current vaccine – now nearly a century old – offers little or no protection against TB in adults.
The good news is that the pipeline of promising new drug, diagnostic and vaccine candidates has flourished over the last decade and a half. But increased global investment in TB R&D is vital to translate this promise into reality. The 9th annual G-FINDER report, launched in Brussels in February 2017, found that $567m was invested in TB R&D globally in 2015. Almost half of this investment went to drug development ($263m, 46%), followed by basic research ($135m, 24%), preventive vaccines ($98m, 17%) and diagnostics ($42m, 7.4%).
Figure i: TB R&D funding by product type 2007-2015 Source: 9th G-FINDER Report, Policy Cures Research p.25
About: G-FINDER is the most comprehensive source of data on global funding for neglected disease R&D. For more information and analysis on financing trends in neglected diseases such as TB, leprosy and trachoma, see the full 2016 G-FINDER report. For more information on promising new candidates currently in development for neglected diseases including TB, see the Policy Cures Research pipeline.
February 2017: Neglected Disease Research and Development 9th G-FINDER Report Launched
On 16 February 2017 Policy Cures Research launched the latest G-FINDER Report in Brussels at the “Shaping the World: A Pivotal Moment in Research and Innovation for Global Health” event, hosted by Friends of Europe.
G-FINDER is the most comprehensive report on public and private funding into research and development (R&D) for neglected diseases such as malaria, TB, pneumonia, sleeping sickness and leprosy. This year’s G-FINDER report showed that global funding for neglected disease R&D approached historic lows in 2015, driven by declining public sector investment, particularly from the US.
Speaking on the panel, Bill Gates encouraged more investment in neglected disease R&D, pointing out that investing in new tools is the only way we will be able to beat these diseases. Carlos Moedas, the European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation said “we must act, not react” in terms of global health investment in neglected diseases.
On a more positive note, Dr Nick Chapman, Executive Director of Policy Cures Research, noted that – in sharp contrast to the public sector – industry investment in neglected disease R&D reached historical highs in 2015 “this was the fourth year in a row that industry has increased its investment in neglected disease R&D – the only sector to have recorded year-on-year growth for such a stretch.”
This ninth report in the G-FINDER series looks at 2015 global investment for R&D into new products for neglected diseases. The survey data covers 39 diseases (including Ebola and other African viral haemorrhagic fevers, which have been analysed separately), 151 product areas for these diseases, including drugs, vaccines, diagnostics, microbicides, vector control products and platform technologies.
Contact: Dr Nick Chapman, Executive Director, Policy Cures Research +61 2 8218 2109 email@example.com
September 2016: Policy Cures Research becomes a new organisation
On 1 September 2016, Policy Cures divided into two independent organisations, with the research and policy team moving across to a new not-for-profit company, Policy Cures Research.
Headed by Dr Nick Chapman, Policy Cures Research will continue to do the same high-quality, rigorous, and independent analysis it has done for the last six years as part of Policy Cures, including managing the G-FINDER project to track global investment in neglected disease research and development.
The advocacy team will remain with Policy Cures, led by Dr Mary Moran, and will focus on advocating for improved funding for neglected disease R&D, with an emphasis on Australia and the Asia-Pacific region.
Policy Cures news
February 2016: A comprehensive picture of the global R&D pipeline for neglected diseases available online
We are pleased to announce the publication of the first comprehensive picture of the neglected disease R&D pipeline since 2012. This online resource is the result of in-depth research and consultation conducted in late 2015, and provides a snapshot of the global neglected disease product pipeline as at October 2015.
By providing an overview of the current landscape of neglected disease R&D activity, including which candidates are in the pipeline and at what stage, who is involved in their development, and where the gaps are, we hope to provide funders, product developers, policy makers and others in the global health community with the information they need for informed decision-making and analysis. To access the neglected disease product pipeline, visit neglected disease R&D pipeline