Spanish government commits EUR 5 million to DNDi’s research for new medicines for neglected diseases

[ Madrid and Geneva – March 6, 2008 ]
Spain’s Agencia Española de Cooperación Internacional (AECI) today granted EUR 5.0 million to the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi) for essential research and development (R&D) of drugs for neglected diseases such as human African trypanosomiasis, leishmaniasis, Chagas disease, and malaria.
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“We welcome this important grant and commitment from the Spanish government  to support innovative R&D for the most neglected diseases to make available safe, effective, practical-to-use, and affordable drugs so desperately needed by patients,“ remarked Dr. Bernard Pecoul, Executive Director of DNDi. “This grant will give hope to millions of patients who unacceptably die or suffer from these diseases in the poorest regions of the world.”

The grant, spread over two years, demonstrates the commitment of the Spanish government to support research and development on neglected diseases, and will provide core funding for DNDi to address the urgent needs of patients suffering from these poverty-related diseases. With a current portfolio of 18 projects, DNDi aims to develop 6 to 8 new, improved, and field-relevant drugs by 2014, including two new malaria treatments that are being delivered in 2008.

“To fight against neglected diseases is to put a voice where there is only silence, and a light in the darkness. It is an ethic responsibility of the governments in developed countries. Spain is dedicated to reinforce its commitment in the following years, and Spanish Cooperation aims to become the leading force in this issue”, said Leire Pajín, Spanish Secretary of International Cooperation. “We cannot carry on allowing the lack of a solid and continuous international response to fight against neglected diseases. The  effort  of Spanish Cooperation, which has been multiplied  by  five during this government term period, only ushers  an era in which Spanish agency wants to lead and add new  private  and  public  efforts  as  well,  and  to  join other European partners  in  this  sense.  Although in 2004, Spain provided less than EUR 2 million, in 2008 we are planning to provide more than EUR 10 million for the fight against neglected diseases. ”

While the establishment of product development partnerships (PDPs) like DNDi represents an important evolution for neglected diseases research, these PDPs have mainly been supported by philanthropic organisations until now. For instance, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) catalyzed the creation of DNDi with a 2003 commitment of 25 million Euros. To sustain the momentum slowly achieved in this field of research, however, public sector investment similar to AECI’s is urgently required to tackle public health needs.

Spanish Secretary of International Cooperation also stated: “To support the fight against neglected diseases means to work for the most vulnerable people, the poorest population, where Spanish Cooperation wants and must be present. On behalf of the Spanish Cooperation, it is a privilege for us to work together with DNDi. Their operational model based on their current portfolio of 18 projects and their business model of public-private partnership are reasonable ways to move forward. No country nor research  group alone will be able to achieve significant development. This is why it is important to enhance all efforts  and  coordination as the best way to move ahead.”

Dr. Pecoul said, “By supporting drug research and development for neglected diseases, the Spanish government is significantly contributing in accelerating the fight against neglected diseases. This step is an encouraging sign that certain governments are starting to perceive the urgency to invest in R&D on neglected diseases.”

About DNDi
The Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi) is an independent, not-for-profit product development partnership working to research and develop new and improved treatments for neglected diseases such as malaria, leishmaniasis, human African trypanosomiasis, and Chagas disease. With the objective to address unmet patient needs for these diseases, DNDi was established in 2003 by four publicly-funded research organizations in neglected disease-endemic countries along with the Institut Pasteur and Médecins Sans Frontières. Working in partnership with industry and academia. DNDi has the largest ever R&D portfolio for the kinetoplastid diseases and currently has 6 clinical and 4 preclinical projects. In 2007, DNDi delivered its first product, a fixed dose antimalarial “ASAQ”.

DNDi needs an additional EUR 200 million in funding in order to achieve its objectives of building a robust pipeline and delivering six to eight new treatments by 2014. To date, DNDi has secured EUR 74 million from public and private donors, including a significant initial contribution from Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders along with important funding from governments. These public donors include the European Union, France, the Netherlands, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America.

For further information, please consult www.dndi.org.

DNDi Media Contacts
For more information, or to arrange an interview with Dr Bernard Pecoul:
contact Ann-Marie SEVCSIK at amsevcsik@dndi.org; +41 (0)79 814 9147; or
Sadia KAENZIG at skaenzig@dndi.org; +41 (0)22 906 9231.