As Threat of Drug-Resistance Grows, Big Pharma Decreases Investments in TB research by 22 Percent
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 29, 2013 – 6 a.m. CET
Mike Frick, Treatment Action Group; Tel. 1 405 388 4490
Samuel Nuttall, Stop TB Partnership; Tel. 41 7947 55534
Paris, France – The 2013 Report on Tuberculosis Research Funding Trends, 2005–2012 finds that funding for tuberculosis research and development (TB R&D) dropped by US$30.4 million compared with 2011—the first time funding has fallen since TAG began tracking investments in 2005. Funding declined for diagnostic, drug, vaccine, and operational research, increasing the likelihood that new tools to fight TB will remain out of reach for the 8.7 million people who develop TB each year.
For the eighth year, Treatment Action Group (TAG) and the Stop TB Partnership have published the latest data on global investments in TB R&D. The report presents eight years of funding data that characterize annual investments by the world’s leading donors to TB R&D, and compares current spending levels with R&D funding targets outlined in the Stop TB Partnership’s Global Plan to Stop TB, 2011–2015 (Global Plan).
Total funding of US$627.4 million leaves a gap of US$1.39 billion measured against the US$2 billion funding target called for by the Global Plan. Reported funding fails to meet the target in all five key research areas tracked by the report: basic science, diagnostics, drugs, vaccines, and operational research.
“Pharmaceutical companies spent 22 percent less on TB R&D in 2012 than they did in 2011,” said TAG’s executive director, Mark Harrington. “Big Pharma has always trailed far behind the public sector in funding TB research, and now their wavering support is placing greater pressure on public institutions in the U.S. and Europe, which are battling short-sighted budget cuts due to sequestration and fiscal austerity.” In the starkest illustration of this trend, Pfizer shut down its TB drug development program by closing its anti-infectives research division in 2012.
“Stopping TB requires new tools, and new tools require more research investment,” said Dr. Lucica Ditiu, executive secretary of the Stop TB Partnership. “This report’s findings show the opposite, and are a double disappointment for the world. Investments in research today will pay for themselves many times over in years to come, but any delay now means pushing the opportunity to end TB further and further away.”
Funding for TB drug research declined for the first time since TAG began reporting TB R&D investments in 2005, falling 6.7% to US$237.8 million. Funding for drug research needs to increase by US$502.2 million to meet the Global Plan target in this category. Diagnostics research funding fell 23.4% to US$42.4 million, creating a funding shortfall of US$297.6 million. Funding for TB vaccine development dropped 9.3% to US$86.6 million, leaving a gap of US$293.4 million. After exceeding the Global Plan funding target in 2011, operational research spending fell back below this level in 2012.Funding for basic science increased by a modest 6.5% to US$129.6 million, but still falls US$290.4 million short of necessary spending.
For the first time ever, TAG analyzed investments in pediatric TB R&D and found them dismally inadequate at just US$10.3 million—less than two percent of total TB R&D funding. “Spending on pediatric TB R&D saw a steep decline of nearly 12 percent from 2011 to 2012. New investments from UNITAID and USAID to formulate TB drugs for children may help to reverse this trend in 2013, but further contributions for new tools to prevent, diagnose, and treat TB among children are imperative,” said Erica Lessem, assistant director of TAG’s TB/HIV Project. Every year, TB kills at least 70,000 children, but they remain woefully underrepresented in TB research.
“The small, unsteady gains in funding we saw from 2005 to 2011 have now sputtered and reversed,” said Mark Harrington. “Without dramatically increased funding, promising new tools will languish in clinical development, and other new technologies will never even enter it. We can achieve zero TB deaths, new infections, and suffering, but only with robust R&D and the reinvigorated financial commitments required to support this lifesaving research.”
Download the 2013 Report on Tuberculosis Research Funding Trends, 2005–2012 at www.treatmentactiongroup.org/tbrd2013
About TAG: Treatment Action Group is an independent AIDS research and policy think tank fighting for better treatment, a vaccine, and a cure for AIDS. TAG works to ensure that all people with HIV receive lifesaving treatment, care, and information. We are science-based treatment activists working to expand and accelerate vital research and effective community engagement with research and policy institutions. TAG catalyzes open collective action by all affected communities, scientists, and policy makers to end AIDS.
About the Stop TB Partnership: The Stop TB Partnership is leading the way to a world without tuberculosis, a disease that is curable but still kills three people every minute. Founded in 2001, the Partnership’s mission is to serve every person who is vulnerable to TB and ensure that high-quality treatment is available to all who need it. Our role is to ensure a bold vision for addressing TB and to coordinate and catalyze global efforts toward elimination of the disease. Together our more than 1,000 partners are a collective force that is transforming the fight against TB in more than 100 countries.