Pfizer, Sanofi, GlaxoSmithKline, and other major pharmaceutical companies have joined forces and pledged to defeat 10 neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) by 2020. The consortium comprises 13 pharmaceutical companies, the United States, United Kingdom and United Arab Emirates governments, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the World Health Organization (WHO), and several other global health entities.
The group will aim to eliminate lymphatic filariasis (elephantiasis), guinea worm, blinding trachoma, sleeping sickness and leprosy, and control a further five diseases—soil transmitted helminthes (intestinal worms), schistosomiasis, river blindness, Chagas, and visceral leishmaniasis.
“The efforts of WHO, researchers, partners, and the contributions of industry have changed the face of NTDs. These ancient diseases are now being brought to their knees with stunning speed,” said Dr. Margaret Chan, director–general of WHO, in a press statement. “With the boost to this momentum being made today, I am confident almost all of these diseases can be eliminated or controlled by the end of this decade.”
The pharma companies taking part in the consortium are Abbott, AstraZeneca, Bayer, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Eisai, Gilead, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Merck KGaA, Merck & Co., Novartis, Pfizer, and Sanofi. According to a statement, companies will donate an average of 1.4 billion treatments each year, while new collaborative R&D and access agreements will provide access to compound libraries that is expected to lead to new treatment options.
“We have joined together to increase the impact of our investments and build on the tremendous progress made to date,” said Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which will provide $363-million to support the development of products for tropical diseases, in a statement. “This innovative approach must serve as a model for solving other global development challenges and will help millions of people build self-sufficiency and overcome the need for aid.”
NTDs are thought to affect more than one billion people in developing countries.