Big pharma donates drugs, know-how for neglected diseases

GlobalPost

Big pharma is joining the fight against disease, with not a profit motive in sight. 

GlaxoSmithKline, Bayer and Johnson & Johnson are among the big pharmaceutical companies donating drugs and scientific know-how in an effort to eliminate or control 10 neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) by 2020.

Teaming up with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the drugmakers will donate an average of 1.4 billion treatments each year to those in need, provide more than $785 million in funding and share expertise and facilities, according to TG Daily

"This innovative approach must serve as a model for solving other global development challenges and will help millions of people build self-sufficiency and overcome the need for aid," said Gates, whose foundation is putting $363 million into the project, expected to affect a billion people worldwide.

It is the largest coordinated effort yet to fight diseases such as Guinea worm disease, leprosy and sleeping sickness, according to Reuters.

The group will also target soil-transmitted helminthes, schistosomiasis, river blindness, Chagas disease and visceral leishmaniasis, the TG Daily reported.

"These ancient diseases are now being brought to their knees with stunning speed," Margaret Chan, director-general of the World Health Organization, reportedly told an audience at the Royal College of Physicians in the London.

"With the boost to this momentum being made today, I am confident almost all of these diseases can be eliminated or controlled by the end of this decade."

Reuters added that NTDs disproportionately affected people in the world's poorest countries, with experts estimating that more than 500 million children were afflicted with one or other disease.

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