Prescription for combating global diseases, by Jean-Pierre Garnier

Thursday, June 2, 2005

Earlier this month, the World Health Organisation published its World Malaria Report providing an update on the battle to fight the “silent killer” of the developing world – malaria. In spite of some progress, the report makes bleak reading, as yet another goal – to halve the deaths caused by malaria by 2010 – looks unlikely to be achieved.

Globally, malaria, tuberculosis and HIV/Aids are killing about 20,000 people every day, the vast majority in the developing world. The scale on which they destroy hope, communities and life is overwhelming. It is only through sustained, combined effort that the international community will make a difference.

The pharmaceutical industry must continue to invest in innovation to seek better solutions for tackling these killers. However, there is a dilemma. While we feel a moral duty and a fundamental desire to conduct research and development into vaccines and medicines for the diseases that blight the developing world, the harsh truth is that there is limited profit to be made from them. Yet, to survive, pharmaceutical companies must be profitable to deliver shareholder value.

New approaches are therefore required to encourage research and development. One solution is the public-private partnership (PPP) model, in which business and the public sectorwork together. Companies such as GlaxoSmithKline provide the R&D, technology, manufacturing and distribution expertise. Public sector partners, such as the Gates Foundation and the UK government, help fund the development and delivery costs. This is a new model, which utilises the respective strengths of each partner and enables us all to do what we could not do alone. It requires flexibility, transparency and trust. Most importantly, it is a model that is working.
Commentary found here.

Source: Financial Times