[ Geneva – May 15, 2009 ]
5-year, GBP 18 Million Grant Supports DNDi’s Proven Drug Development Model
The UK’s Department of International Development (DFID) renewed its support of the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi) with a GBP18 million (EUR 20 million) grant. The funds will be used to research and develop new, improved treatments for a group of deadly neglected diseases, for which current treatments are inadequate in that they are often toxic, prohibitively expensive, or difficult to be administered, particularly in resource-poor settings.
DFID, the first major government donor of DNDi with a three-year grant awarded in 2005, will disburse the new funds over the next five years. The grant will cover a broad spectrum of drug research, development, and access activities undertaken by DNDi and its partners to address the imbalance between investment in medical research and global disease burden, often referred to as the 10-90 gap.
“NECT represents a breakthrough in the current treatment of sleeping sickness; and efforts to progress fexinidazole could lead to a simple and more effective oral treatment,” commented Ivan Lewis, UK International Development Minister. “That is why it is important we continue to invest in research like DNDi’s that will discover new treatments that are affordable, effective and that could ultimately save millions of lives.”
With a robust portfolio including a balanced mix of early-stage discovery and late-stage clinical development projects, DNDi is well on its way to reaching its objective to deliver six to eight new, improved, and field-relevant treatments by 2014, with two new malaria treatments already available in Africa and Latin America. This past month, Nifurtimox-Eflornithine Combination Therapy (NECT), an improved treatment against sleeping sickness, was included onto the Essential Medicines List (EML) of the World Health Organization (WHO), thus paving the way for NECT – only the 2nd new treatment option for sleeping sickness in the last 50 years.
“We congratulate and thank DFID for its continued leadership in dedicating thought, action, and money to addressing the plight of the most neglected suffering around the world. This funding will enable us to make available the safe, effective, practical-to-use, and affordable treatments so desperately needed by patients,” remarked Dr. Bernard Pécoul, Executive Director of DNDi. “We urge other governments to join the fight against these devastating diseases as, together, this is a battle we can win.”
About neglected diseases
Neglected tropical diseases cause significant morbidity and mortality worldwide, and exact a worldwide cost that is greater than road traffic accidents or tuberculosis (1). For some of these neglected tropical diseases (like sleeping sickness, leishmaniasis, and Chagas disease), no adequate tools exist to prevent, diagnose or treat these fatal conditions, due to a combination of market and public policy failures.
In 2007, less than 5% of USD 2.5 billion in total funding for neglected diseases R&D went to these deadly diseases (2).
Between the period from 1975 to 2004, only 21 new drugs (out of 1,556 developed in total) were developed for tropical diseases and tuberculosis: this is 1.3% of new drugs developed, even though these diseases account for 12% of the global disease burden (3).
At the end of 2004, 75% of active drug development projects for neglected tropical diseases were conducted by PDPs, with eight to nine new drugs expected in the market by 2010 (4). To date, PDPs have made available three new treatments to patients.
About about NECT inclusion onto the Essential Medicines List of the World Health Organization:
Available at: http://www.who.int/neglected_diseases/disease_management/drug_combination/en/index.html
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 leishmaniasis, human African trypanosomiasis (HAT), Chagas disease, and malaria. With the objective to address unmet patient needs for these diseases, DNDi has developed the largest ever R&D portfolio for the kinetoplastid diseases and has already made available two new antimalarial treatments. In December 2008, DNDi, Epicentre, and MSF released promising Phase III clinical study results of NECT (nifurtimox-eflornithine combination therapy), which show NECT is a safe, effective treatment for the advanced stage of HAT.
DNDi was founded in 2003 by the humanitarian organisation Médecins sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) along with 5 research institutions: Institut Pasteur, Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI), Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), the Foundation Oswaldo Cruz in Brazil, and the Ministry of Health in Malaysia, and. The special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases (TDR) acts as a permanent observer to the initiative.
Even with the recent funding recommitments by DFID and MSF, DNDi needs an additional EUR 160 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 114 million from public and private donors, with a sustained contribution from MSF. Significant funding has come from public donors including: the European Union, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America.
DNDi has a number of project partners in the UK who are involved at various projects throughout the drug development spectrum; these partners include London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, Aptuit, BioDynamics, Covance, Imperial College, London School of Pharmacy, Oxford University, University of Dundee, and University of Liverpool
(1) Hotez et al. N Engl J Med. 2007. 357:10.
(2) The World Can’t Wait: More Funding Needed for Research on Neglected Infectious Diseases. Washington, DC: Families USA: 2008.
(3) Chirac P, Torreele E. Lancet. 2006 May 12; 1560-1561.
(4) Moran et al. The New Landscape of Neglected Disease Drug Development. London, UK: Pharmaceutical R&D Policy Project, London School of Economics. 2005
Sadia Kaenzig, DNDi Geneva, +41 (0)79 819 99 71
Ann-Marie Sevcsik, DNDi Geneva, +41 (0)79 814 9147 or +1 646-258-8131
Michelle French, DNDi North America, (212) 298-3743 or +1-646-552-4600