In time for World TB Day today (March 24), an analysis has been published of research and development being carried out for tuberculosis by the 20 largest pharmaceutical companies.
Research is urgently needed for diagnostic tools, vaccines and medicines that can combat the increasing prevalence of new drug resistant strains of TB.
The Access to Medicines Index (ATMI) highlights that: “treatment consists of drug cocktails that patients must take daily for months or even years”; available vaccines are often unreliable and only protect children; and current diagnostic tools require professional training and equipment that is not always available.
The study concludes that “big pharma is focusing its R&D efforts on new drugs and new vaccines, and paying particular attention to developing tools for resistant strains.”
Most of the R&D for drugs and vaccines is carried out in collaboration with product development partnerships, government institutions and academia. For example, GSK are currently developing a vaccine with the non-profit biotech company Aeras. Pharma involvement can “range from making their drugs available for testing by others, to working in closer collaboration,” says the analysis.
Meanwhile, diagnostic tools are mainly being developed by small, specialised bio-tech companies, and the analysis shows no clinical trials in this vital area are being carried out by the big pharmaceutical companies.
The question also remains whether the drugs and vaccines being developed by big pharma will be made accessible and affordable to all people living in low and middle income countries. More information on the analysis can be found here.
Source: Intellectual Property Watch