There is a some good news for “neglected diseases” in the latest research by the George Institute in Australia, to identify funding for research and development into illnesses traditionally receiving little support from pharmaceutical companies.
Nearly $3bn was spent last year in the search for new medicines in areas such as malaria, pneumonia and dengue. Drug companies are providing support, and the governments of two of the richer developing countries with many such illnesses – Brazil and India – are for the first time among the “top five” public sector funders, as they take growing responsibility for their domestic disease burden.
The bad news is that funding is stagnant and remains a tiny fraction of the efforts invested into other, richer world, diseases. But at least developing country governments and companies are increasingly taking up the slack. Over time, that may help them not only tackle problems at home but help develop local expertise in drug development that will challenge the dominance of western pharmaceutical companies in the future.