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Funding for neglected disease research holds steady

POLICY CURES

Global funding for work on neglected diseases totalled US$3.32 billion last year, essentially stable in real terms compared with 2010, according to the G-FINDER investment survey by analysis firm Policy Cures. (The chart shows funding adjusted to 2007 constant dollars.)

Those figures are more promising than last year’s survey, which found almost a 3.5% real-terms decrease as wealthy nations started to reduce their funding for research on diseases that affect predominantly developing nations, such as tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and malaria.

But the survey shows that the balance of funding is changing. Over the past three years, public and philanthropic funding have declined slightly, as some government aid budgets have been cut, and as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has decreased its contributions. On the flip side, industry funding has grown from 8% to 16% of the total (mostly owing to investments in trials for dengue vaccines).

The destination of the funding is changing, too. Public funding (still more than 60% of the total) is shifting away from product development and towards basic academic research, Policy Cures says. Basic research is nearly one-third of public funding, up from one one-quarter in 2007 (press release, pdf).

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