Why is this resolution important
to an initiative such as DNDi?
Product development partnerships (PDPs) like DNDi should welcome this new political move by governments for a number of reasons.
The resolution creates the ground for an agenda for research and political action directed at public health and medicines in general, linking future progress to the equitable distribution of the fruit of scientific innovation.
This broad vision of R&D is crucial for developing countries: First, because the poor suffer from numerous debilitating medical conditions (including those that occur among the rich) and are most vulnerable to the potential threats from new viruses, e.g., avian flu. And second, because developing countries are at the receiving end of often inappropriate innovation from wealthy countries, which are not usually accessible to patients who most need them.
The resolution recognises the key role played by PDPs in addressing the shortcomings of the current profit-driven R&D system. Yet, it also contains a very convincing diagnosis about their inevitably limited response in the face of global health needs, and questions their sustainability if governments do not provide solid and long-term support to their essential research initiatives.
It must be considered that a number of developing countries have strengthened their capacity to develop new health technologies, and their role in this field will become stronger in the coming years. This, however, calls for a leap into a variety of research options and new financing mechanisms. A more fertile environment for health innovation is needed as an alternative to the current system of incentives, which does not provide sufficient support to the pre-emptive development of new drugs for resistant strains of disease, since there is no market until resistance is widespread. New open-source models could very likely help developing countries get more involved in R&D, as they encourage the progress of scientific knowledge and, through the internet, facilitate the sharing of that knowledge.
The Kenya/Brazil resolution accurately recognizes the relevance of public sector leadership in defining the R&D agenda. DNDi has favoured this approach from the start and made it explicit in the global appeal for R&D
for neglected diseases. In particular, the initiative tries to place WHO
in the centre of the discussion on how to stimulate essential health R&D; this exercise could well turn out to be the next phase of the Essential Drugs Project that WHO launched in the ’70s.
Published by Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative - 1 Place St Gervais 1201 Geneva Switzerland
Editor: Jaya Banerji - Tel: +41 22 906 9230 - Fax: +41 22 906 9231 - www.dndi.org