Published each year since 2007, the G-FINDER report provides comprehensive analysis of global investment in research and development (R&D) for new products to prevent, diagnose, control, or cure neglected diseases in developing countries. Launched ahead of World NTD Day on 30 January, the report provides an up-to-date assessment of R&D investments across neglected diseases and medical product types, levels of investment coming from public, philanthropic, and industry sources, and funding trends over time.
Dr Kavita Singh, Director, DNDi South Asia Regional Office
‘DNDi welcomes the critical insights provided in the new G-FINDER report, which functions as an important barometer of political will and financial commitment to developing the medical tools clinicians need to protect health and save lives in the world’s poorest and most vulnerable communities.
Neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) affect 1.7 billion people, almost half of them children. The WHO 2030 Roadmap on NTDs sets attainable targets for the control and elimination of NTDs, but we cannot reach these goals without increased investment in research for safe, simple, and effective medical tools that are adapted for use in the health systems that need them.
The actions and commitments that will determine progress toward the 2030 goals are spelled out in the Kigali Declaration on NTDs, which pinpoints the crucial need for investment in research and innovation. But funding shortfalls put our ability to make progress for neglected patients in real jeopardy.
Funding for NTDs reduced to USD 328 million in 2020 – a 6% decrease from 2019, marking four years of decline and continuing a decade of relative funding stagnation.
G-FINDER data on R&D funding for NTDs1 show that public funding fell 7% in 2020 compared to 2019 and was 7% lower in 2020 than the five-year average. While philanthropic funding grew 12% in 2020, benefiting from rising contributions from the Wellcome Trust and other foundations, it was 12% lower than the 5-year average and 38% lower compared to 2016. Support for NTD R&D from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation was 54% lower than in 2016.
Contributions from low- and middle-income country (LMIC) public donors for all diseases within G-FINDER’s scope have also declined, falling by 16% from 2019 to 2020. Indian government contributions represented 78% of total LMIC public funding. While a welcome sign of political commitment, this is also a clear indication that increased support from other countries most impacted by NTDs is needed to accelerate progress toward meeting 2030 targets.
Since 2003, DNDi teams and partners have succeeded in delivering nine new treatments for six deadly diseases, saving millions of lives. DNDi’s historical data on its drug development projects show out-of-pocket expenses for R&D ranged from EUR 4 to 60 million per treatment developed, up to and including registration2 – far below the development costs reported by industry players.
Collaborative, not-for-profit R&D models like those of DNDi and other product development partnerships are succeeding in assembling the expertise and commitment needed to deliver on the innovation agenda for NTDs. And we have succeeded in maintaining momentum despite the challenges posed to our programmes by the COVID-19 pandemic.
DNDi is grateful to every funder that enables our partnerships to carry out our mission for neglected patients, but we cannot shy away from the fact that funding levels continue to trend in the wrong direction. The true signpost of political commitment to addressing NTDs will be a growth in sustainable, multi-year investments from public and philanthropic donors and from industry. Securing access to the fruits of scientific progress for all people – no matter their income or where they live – depends on it.’
1 Data available at: G-FINDER Data Portal