MSF and DNDi report highlights importance of research into neglected diseases

MSF and DNDi press release

A new report produced jointly by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) and the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi) highlights the disparities between medical research and global disease burden in an analysis of research developments over the last decade. [1]

Despite important progress in research and development (R&D) for global health over the past decade, only a small fraction of new medicines developed between 2000 and 2011 were for the treatment of neglected diseases, highlighting the ‘fatal imbalance’ between global disease burden and drug development for some of the world’s most devastating illnesses.

The report details that between 2000 and 2011, 3.8 percent of newly approved drugs (excluding vaccines) were for tropical diseases, TB, and other neglected infections, which together account for 10.5 percent of the global disease burden. Much of the progress in the treatment of neglected diseases and important patient benefit during this time came about through drug reformulations and repurposing of existing drugs against these illnesses. However, only four of the 336 new medicines (new chemical entities) developed between 2000 and 2011 were for the treatment of neglected diseases.

According to the DNDi and MSF analysis, three of the four brand-new medicines approved for neglected diseases in the past decade were for malaria, with none for the 17 neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) defined by the World Health Organization (WHO), nor TB. Furthermore, as of December 2011, only 1.4 percent of nearly 150,000 registered clinical trials were focused on neglected diseases.

Some individual successes have emerged from the proliferation of global R&D over the last decade. For example, product development partnerships (PDPs) were responsible for over 40 percent of neglected disease products registered between 2000 and 2011, including new TB diagnostics and malaria combination treatments.


MSF press release. Millions of patients still waiting for medical “breakthroughs” against neglected diseases: analysis of health R&D pipeline shows important progress, but significant gaps in innovation remain. (13 December 2012).


MSF/DNDi report. Medical innovation for neglected patients: important progress over past ten years, but “fatal imbalance” persists

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Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)

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