Leaders from governments, biotechnology companies, and multi-lateral agencies from around the world will gather in Carmel Valley, CA, February 18-21 to study how best to promote development of drugs and vaccines for the world's poorest countries. This Global Health Forum: "Creating Global Markets for Orphan Drugs & Vaccines: A Challenge for Public/Private Partnership," will be sponsored by the Institute for Global Health, of the University of California, San Francisco, and UC Berkeley.
Although the forum is closed to the press and the public, its participants will publish a set of conclusions and recommendations for action. They will discuss these recommendations at a press briefing in San Francisco, Tuesday, February 22.
As the biotechnology and vaccine industries have blossomed in recent decades, they have focused predominantly on diseases affecting the world's richest countries. Diseases that plague poor countries, such as malaria and sleeping sickness, have been largely ignored, said Dr. Richard Feachem, PhD, DSc(Med), founding director of the Institute for Global Health, and a professor of international health at UCSF and UC Berkeley.
"Modern biomedical science and biotechnology are beginning to deliver fantastically powerful new drugs and new vaccines. We must find ways to bring the fruits of medical science to all people in the world who could benefit from them. If we fail, the consequences will be catastrophic," he said.
Without a more concerted effort, the epidemics developing countries are now facing will reach catastrophic proportions, Feachem said. "In a few years, malaria will be untreatable, and HIV will have caused devastation in Asia as it has already in Africa," he said. Malaria parasites are quickly becoming resistant and there are no new drugs in the development pipeline, and HIV vaccines that low income countries can afford and use are still years away, he