More drugs for the poor

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The Economist reports on a promising boom in drugs to treat "neglected" diseases such as malaria and tuberculosis.

These have not been particularly interesting markets for big pharmaceutical firms to spend their R&D cash on, compared with, say, new anti-cancer drugs for the rich world. Between 1975 and 1999, only 13 new drugs for neglected diseases were developed, and many big drugmakers got out of the business of tropical disease altogether... however, there has been a significant increase in activity since 2000. There are now at least 63 active drug-development projects for neglected diseases, with 18 potential drugs in clinical trials...

This, apparently, is because public-private partnerships are helping to keep a lid on the cost and risks of early research. The Economist speculate that moves to create markets for vaccines may damage such efforts, although I am not convinced.

Update: Original research by Mary Moran here, courtesy of Vaccines for Development.

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