IP Watch; December 8, 2015. A newly issued report provides the “first ever” picture of global investment in Ebola research and development. The report found that investment in Ebola might have come at the expense of other funding to develop drugs, vaccines and diagnostics for other neglected diseases. The report also found that public funding on research and development for neglected diseases was at its lowest in years.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation-funded G-FINDER 2015 was released on 3 December. It is the eighth edition of the report, and is published by Policy Cures, “an independent group providing research, information, decision-making tools and strategic analysis” on the creation of new pharmaceuticals for neglected diseases, according to its website.
According to a press release [pdf], new funding for Ebola research and development (R&D) “mobilised in response to the 2014 West African Ebola outbreak was entirely responsible for the $150m increase in neglected disease R&D funding in 2014, with funding for all other neglected diseases essentially unchanged (down $14m, or -0.4%).”
The G-FINDER report covers 35 neglected diseases, including Ebola, and 142 product areas for these diseases, including drugs, vaccines, diagnostic, microbicides and vector control products. The report collected data on all types of product-related R&D, including basic research, discovery and preclinical, and clinical development, pharmacovigilance studies, and baseline epidemiological studies, according to the document.
The report found that the “three ‘top tier’ diseases – HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis (TB) – received the majority of global neglected disease R&D funding (68 percent). Funding for malaria and for TB increased slightly while funding for HIV/AIDS remained about the same.
According to the report, “the 2014 West African Ebola outbreak resulted in rapid mobilisation of significant R&D funding, led by the US Government,” with a total of US$165m, which made Ebola the fifth-highest funded of all the neglected diseases.
Nearly three-quarters of all R&D Ebola funding in 2014 came from the public sector, and the pharmaceutical industry investment was US$35m (21 percent of global Ebola funding), while the philanthropic sector “provided a relatively modest contribution of US$12m.”
The report underlined that public funding of R&D for all other neglected diseases “approached a historical low.”
“Public funding for non-Ebola neglected disease R&D in 2014 was the lowest recorded since 2007,” the report said. Industry, however, reported in 2014 “its largest investment in neglected disease R&D in history.”