MEDICINE: New Routes to Drugs

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Science  23 Sep 2005:
Vol. 309, Issue 5743, pp. 1967b
DOI: 10.1126/science.309.5743.1967b

Twentieth-century dogma was that drug development for neglected diseases is neglected because there is not enough (or no) profit to be made from the generally impoverished populations who suffer these infections. A recent analysis by Moran reveals a more optimistic turn of events for this century with the burgeoning of public-private partnerships (PPPs), such as the Medicines for Malaria Venture, the Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative, and the TB Alliance. PPPs are becoming pivotal in coordinating the efforts of Western multinational pharmaceutical firms, with a range of contacts and clinical experience in academia, with the efforts of smaller biotech and developing-country firms. Moran points out that multinationals are not motivated solely by profit; they also want to burnish their reputations and gain strategic access to developing-country markets and labor skills. By integrating and screening projects and expertise, PPPs synergistically reduce drug development costs from about $1 billion for a Western market to tens of millions for a neglected disease. The good news is that the PPPs will get better and more efficient as their experience grows. — CA

PLoS Med. 2, e302 (2005).

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