The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) through KfW has granted additional funding to six non-profit organizations that focus on research and development (R&D) of affordable and accessible vaccines, treatments, diagnostics, and prevention technologies for neglected populations.
The Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi), FIND, the global alliance for diagnostics, the International Partnership for Microbicides (IPM), Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV), PATH, and TB Alliance will receive a total of EUR 15.1 million to ensure the continuity of R&D tools for HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis (TB), and neglected tropical diseases (NTDs).
This funding for 2021-2022 follows the German government’s most recent 2016-2020 funding period for product development partnerships (PDPs). BMBF through KfW has supported PDPs since 2011.
This new commitment is particularly important given the COVID-19 pandemic, which continues to have a negative impact on communities already hard-hit by these diseases. The COVID pandemic is also threatening progress toward achieving United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 3 – ‘Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.’
Operating on a not-for-profit basis, PDPs prioritize access and affordability during the R&D process to ensure that global health innovations reach the patients who need them. International cooperation in R&D – one of the central tenets of the PDP model – is a key focus of the ‘Global Health Strategy of the German Federal Government’. German government support to date has enabled PDPs to collaborate across borders and across the public, private, civil society, academic, and philanthropic sectors to develop innovative solutions to pressing health problems.
Since 2010, twelve leading PDPs have developed and introduced 66 new health technologies, which have reached more than 2.4 billion people around the world, including women, children, and other populations often ignored by traditional models of R&D. This progress would not be possible without the support of BMBF and other public and philanthropic funders.
This additional funding underlines BMBF’s vital commitment to global health research and R&D models that ensure the availability of new medical tools and progress in neglected research areas. Germany’s recent coalition treaty states that the new government will ‘intensify the fight against poverty-related and neglected tropical diseases.’
Germany’s upcoming G7 presidency will be an opportunity to show commitments to international cooperation in global health R&D, including this renewed support for PDPs.
More details on the supported PDPs and projects:
- DNDi: BMBF through KfW has been a key DNDi donor since 2012, supporting a wide range of R&D initiatives aimed at delivering affordable and accessible treatments for people affected by NTDs. For example, the Ministry co-financed the development of fexinidazole and acoziborole, two game-changing treatments for sleeping sickness – a deadly disease that affects people in very remote, hard-to-reach Central African communities. With this additional funding, DNDi will continue developing treatments for the most neglected tropical diseases while also conducting exploratory assessments to examine research gaps for dengue fever, snakebite, and schistosomiasis.
- FIND: With support from the German government, FIND, the global alliance for diagnostics, and its partners have made progress in accelerating testing technologies that have significant impact at lower levels of the health system for TB, Buruli ulcer, and Lassa fever. The additional funding provided will allow FIND to continue this work until December 2022 and support late-stage development and evaluation for roll-out of these innovative testing technologies.
- IPM: BMBF through KfW has been a longstanding supporter of IPM’s mission to expand women’s HIV prevention options. Previous funding was critical to IPM’s monthly dapivirine vaginal ring (DVR) becoming the first long-acting and woman-controlled HIV prevention product to receive a positive European Medicines Agency opinion, WHO recommendation and approvals in several countries in Africa. The additional funding will support: continued regulatory submissions in eastern and southern Africa, where the need for new prevention methods is urgent; preparations for the ring’s introduction where it is approved; and R&D for a follow-on DVR that could be used for three months at a time.
- MMV: BMBF’s incremental funding to MMV continues to support key R&D activities under the three priority areas of discovery, translational medicine, and product development. Of particular note is the increased attention on ensuring the development of medicines suitable for children and women of childbearing potential – the groups most at risk of malaria.
- PATH: Through KfW, BMBF has supported PATH’s work in low resource settings evaluating vaccines against malaria and cervical cancer over the past several years. Additional commitments from BMBF will augment their funding for a clinical trial of an affordable human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine in Bangladesh and Ghana to address impacts related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- TB Alliance: With additional funding, TB Alliance continues to pursue necessary further breakthroughs in TB therapy – shorter regimens of safer and more effective drugs – to accelerate the reduction of the TB disease burden, and ultimately achieve its elimination. Specifically, TB Alliance will continue rolling out the breakthrough BPaL regimen, striving for updated global guidance and additional regulatory approvals for the regimen to be used in highly drug-resistant TB patients. Concurrently, TB Alliance is developing a universal regimen that is effective against all forms of TB, by researching safer oxazolidinones and diarylquinolines.
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Photo credit: Lameck Ododo/DNDi