This week in TB R&D – 22 June 2010

21 Jun 2010
by Working Group

Analysis of PDP Funding Landscape released by G-FINDER

Last week, an analysis of product development partnerships (PDP) funding based on data from G-FINDER was published in the journal, International Health. The article praises successful PDPs as productive and cost-effective, while calling attention to their “increasingly important role as creators, developers and deliverers of new products for neglected diseases.

money tree
Fundraising has become far more difficult in the current economic climate

With 42% of external neglected disease R&D expenditure channeled through PDPs (excluding NIH funds), the report points to several attributes that make PDPs the preferred vehicle for product development investments by donor agencies. Decisions about portfolio management are made by independent Scientific Advisory Committees, relieving agencies of the need for technical staff and day-to-day involvement in scientific decision making. Donors may also invest through PDPs because their funds are used efficiently and leveraged with contributions and expertise from private sector partners. Lastly, the report notes that PDPs’ track record for delivering tangible returns on investments may also be a compelling factor for donors.

The report does express concern at the fairly limited number of funding sources for PDPs (77% of PDP funding originating from only 5 donors: the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the governments of the US, UK, Ireland and the Netherlands), noting that a depressed global economy along with the increasing costs that accompany global neglected disease portfolio with more projects headed toward late stage testing pose considerable challenges to the PDPs. The authors reference a study by Dalberg Global Development Advisors, commissioned by the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers & Associations that estimates the cost of maturing the 2008 neglected disease drug portfolio over the subsequent 10 years at US $6–10 billion*.

To be sure, securing the reinvestment of existing donors and achieving a greater diversity of funding streams are strategic imperatives for the PDP community. This report is supportive of both notions, stating that “funding for effective PDPs should be preferentially protected in difficult times,” and “urgent measures need to be taken to support effective PDPs.” Given that a considerable amount of PDPs’ external expenditure went to research organizations in the developed world, the report poses that “it may be time to ask whether domestic departments of trade and industry, medical research councils and health research funding agencies should be stepping into the PDP funding breach

What are your thoughts? Comments? Please submit them below.

* Unpublished feasibility study for a fund for R&D for neglected diseases. Dalberg Global Development Advisors. Commissioned by the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers & Associations (IFPMA) and Novartis International AG, 2008.

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