The courage to change the rules: A Proposal for an essential health R&D treaty

Although biomedical science and technology are developing at a more rapid pace than ever, the medical needs of many of the world's population go unmet. Only 1% of new drugs approved between 1975 and 1999 were specifically developed for tropical diseases and tuberculosis - diseases that account for over 10% of the global disease burden. What we need, argue Nicoletta Dentico and Nathan Ford of the Drugs for Neglected Diseases Working Group (www.accessmed-msf.org/dnd/index.asp) in this month's PLoS Medicine, is a new international treaty on essential health research and development (R&D) that would "provide a binding framework to redirect today's knowledge and scientific expertise to priority needs."

The treaty, they say, would focus directly on R&D rather than patent rights or drug prices, and it would address the global management of publicly funded health R&D. "Priorities for R&D would be defined through public-sector leadership and based on public health needs."

Dentico and Ford argue that the World Health Organization, as the only legally mandated international government agency responsible for global health, should work toward establishing this essential R&D agenda. Individual member states of the WHO "would need to periodically evaluate targets for priority research and make adequate recommendations towards needs-driven R&D."


Contact: Paul Ocampo
Public Library of Science

Page: 1

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