Following news reports that British pharmaceutical producer AstraZeneca will end its spending on early stage research and development for tuberculosis, malaria and neglected tropical diseases, Médecins Sans Frontières issued a statement saying the move is further proof that substantive change to the global pharmaceutical R&D system is needed.
MSF said the move by AstraZeneca, as well as the recent quote of a Bayer executive that the company produced a cancer drug for “western patients who can afford it,” in fact “only serve to confirm that multinational pharmaceutical companies are ignoring the medical needs of the poor and are pouring their R&D into diseases that primarily affect rich countries.”
“This move by AstraZeneca is incredibly discouraging and is very bad news for people in developing countries,” Manica Balasegaram, executive director of MSF Access campaign said in a release. “AstraZeneca are just cementing big pharma’s reputation that they invest in drugs only for rich countries. The company’s decision plainly shows how the entire pharmaceutical research and development system is broken and needs urgent fixing.”
The problem is that companies lack a profit incentive in these drugs primarily afflicting developing countries, she said.
The MSF release is available here.
Alternative financing mechanisms for neglected diseases have been a subject of debate at the World Health Organization, most recently last week’s WHO Executive Board meeting (IPW, WHO, 25 January 2013).
Source: Intellectual Property Watch