Recently, Dr. Neeraj Mistry, Managing Director for the Global Network, joined the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) for an online conversation about neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). He was joined by industry and NGO leaders in highlighting the importance of innovative partnerships and the vital role of pharmaceutical companies in fighting these diseases.
“Over the past year, we have seen some encouraging signs of progress from regional and national bodies in NTD-endemic regions,” Dr. Mistry said. “Thirty-six African nations have developed multi-year national plans to control and eliminate NTDs by 2020. Also, at WHO’s 63rd Regional Committee for Africa, countries adopted a regional strategic plan recommending increased access to treatments, resource mobilization, advocacy, and monitoring and evaluation, surveillance and research. In the past several months, the World Health Assembly, Organization of American States and African Union have all adopted resolutions against NTDs and strengthen efforts to integrate NTD programs into other health sectors.”
Through large-scale treatment donation, expanded research, increased information sharing and building cross-sector networks, the pharmaceutical industry has demonstrated a long-term commitment to combating NTDs. AbbVie, for example, is collaborating with foundations and academic institutions to provide a library of chemicals to screen against NTDs, while GlaxoSmithKline has partnered with Pfizer and CARE India to research ways to eliminate visceral leishmaniasis. And Merck now reaches more than 200 million people annually through its innovative, multi-sector Mectizan Donation Program, which focuses on combating onchocerciasis and has been expanded to include treatment for LF.
But the fight is not yet over, and the pharmaceutical industry is just one part of a diverse group of stakeholders – from NGOs and policymakers to industry and academic institutions – leading the charge against NTDs. “Funding is being mobilized, but more is needed. The capacity to deliver treatments in some countries needs strengthening. New diagnostics are needed to better understand when to start and stop treatments. For some diseases, new and better drugs or treatment strategies are needed to fill gaps where current therapies are limited or lacking. Endemic country governments need the political will and resources to address NTDs in their countries,” noted Brenda Colatrella, Merck’s Executive Director of Corporate Responsibility.
Through collaboration, innovation and sustained commitment, these partners can, and will, continue to make progress toward control and elimination of these diseases.
To read the entire conversation, click here.