Funding for research on neglected diseases reached $3.26 billion in 2009. But the author of a new report on the subject is warning that governments appear to have given priority to funding their own researchers over the public-private partnerships which attempt to turn research into useable products.
“Increased public spending on domestic researchers is an understandable strategy in hard economic times, but only if it also achieves the aim of creating new medicines and vaccines for those in the developing world,” says Mary Moran, director of the Policy Cures consultancy (press release).
Diseases traditionally ignored by pharmaceutical companies – such as malaria and dengue fever – have been increasing in profile in recent years, not least due to Bill Gate’s ploughing a large chunk of his personal fortune into the area.
The third Global Funding of Innovation for Neglected Diseases (G-FINDER) report shows annual funding has increased significantly since the 2007 survey found annual funding of $2.56bn.
But the report also warns that in 2009 there was a 9% drop in funding of Product Development Partnerships – the entities that combine public and private funding to develop treatments for neglected diseases.
Of the total, most of the money came from public sources, which pitched in some 66.5%. Philanthropic organisations picked up 20.5% while industry provided 12.9%. The three big diseases – HIV, malaria and TB – still get the lion’s share of this funding, 72% in 2009. But this is down from 77% in 2007 with diarrhoea and dengue both picking up more than 5% of funding for the first time.
Image: Nature, based on data from G-FINDER