Leading pharmaceutical companies & research institutions offer IP and expertise for use in treating neglected tropical diseases
Wednesday, 26 October 2011
More than 1 billion people – a sixth of the world’s population – suffer from Neglected Tropical Diseases, or NTDs. In 149 countries one or more NTDs are endemic. Unfortunately, these countries tend to be amongst the poorest in the world, where the loss of productivity of the working population and the costs of health provision caused by NTDs hinders economic, social, and political development.
This makes NTDs a pressing global healthcare challenge. However, due to low commercial incentives, it has been an under researched area, receiving less funding than more high profile diseases, like HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria.
The pharmaceutical industry can and does play a positive role in meeting the challenges posed by NTDs. But more must be done. That is why, along with other research-based companies, AstraZeneca has agreed to join the World Intellectual Property Organization’s (WIPO) WIPO Re:Search initiative, in what is an unprecedented collaboration between the private sector and public partners. WIPO Re:Search will present to the public a searchable database of available IP assets and resources for use in NTD research. By coming together and sharing information and skills, the members of WIPO Re:Search hope to make possible new partnerships between researchers to speed the discovery and development of new potential treatments for NTDs.
A robust and predictable IP system is essential to encourage investment in R&D, allowing pharmaceutical companies to create acceptable returns for shareholders. However, by supporting WIPO Re:Search, AstraZeneca can lead the way in showing how IP need not be a barrier to access to healthcare and can stimulate R&D in diseases that are less commercially attractive.
That’s why we’ve committed to make our entire patent portfolio available for use in NTD R&D through WIPO Re:Search. In addition, we will be contributing compounds and practical assistance to researchers. AstraZeneca will provide access to our high throughput screening technologies, compound collection, and open up access to our labs. We will also increase opportunities for scientists to work at our facilities around the world and encourage scientific mentoring and use of our innovative technologies by guest scientists researching treatments for NTDs.
Speaking today at the launch of the WIPO Re:Search in Geneva, David Brennan said:
The innovative pharmaceutical industry has an important part to play in addressing unmet medical needs, and increasing access to our collective proprietary information will help advance research into treatment options for these underserved diseases. WIPO Re:Search has the potential to make a real impact on global health, which is why we are proud to make all patents owned by AstraZeneca available to this important initiative for promoting the research and development of treatments for neglected tropical diseases anywhere in the world."
David joins, among others, Francis Gurry, Director General of WIPO, Margaret Chan, Director General of WHO to pledge commitment to the initiative. That commitment includes the provision that IP licensed via WIPO Re:Search will be licensed on a royalty-free basis for research and development for neglected tropical diseases in any country. It will also be licensed on a royalty-free basis for sales of neglected tropical disease medicines in, or to, least developed countries.