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The 2010 G-Finder Report and TB R&D: A Changing Landscape

2010 G-Finder Report

The third annual G-Finder report, Neglected Disease Research and Development, was released on February 16, 2011. The report, compiled by the Policy Cures staff using information self-reported by granting and recipient institutions, provides the latest information on the funding of research and development (R&D) for neglected diseases. In 2009, 218 organizations completed surveys, covering 31 neglected diseases and 134 product areas for these diseases, including vaccines, drugs, diagnostics, microbicides and vector control products.

Total investment in neglected diseases R&D rose from $2.96 billion in 2008 to $3.19 billion in 2009, thanks to a notable increase in public funding and some additional private investment from pharmaceutical companies. Tuberculosis (TB) received the largest increase (25.4%) in funding out of all of the neglected diseases in 2009. Of the $560 million TB R&D received in 2009, the majority (35.6%) went to basic research, followed by drugs (32.1%) and preventative vaccines (19.4%). The increase in funding of R&D is largely from increased investment from National Institutes of Health (NIH) in basic science research and pharmaceutical companies. Even with this increase in funding, TB R&D as a proportion of neglected disease R&D has risen less than 2% since the G-Finder started its reports in 2007.

While the report does not estimate total funding needs, we know that the Global Plan to Stop TB calls for $1.8 billion annually to support the R&D of drugs, vaccines, and diagnostics. Even with an increase in funding as demonstrated by the G-Finder report and the Treatment Action Group’s 2010 Report on TB Research Funding Trends, the funding gap is still nearly $1.2 billion. Also of note was a significant reduction in the funding of Product Development Partnerships (PDPs). The investment shift in 2009 resulted in a drop of 8.6% in total funding ($50 million) and caused their share of global grant funding to drop from 25.6% to 22%.

The funding picture presented by the G-Finder report raises several concerns as highlighted by Dr. Mary Moran, the Director of Policy Cures, “Funders need to be careful not to take their eye off the ball. More funding is vital, and encouraging to see, but it’s just as important that the funds are spent wisely and well. Increased public spending on domestic research 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.”

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