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New report finds PDPs serving neglected communities produced dozens of life-saving innovations

Novel approach for minimizing investment risks and stretching limited budgets has 375 infectious disease innovations under development

Public-private initiatives have contributed significantly to COVID-19 vaccine development, but this model for accelerating biomedical innovation had emerged already as a powerhouse for fighting global health threats long before the pandemic hit.

Over the last decade, such alliances have produced a wide assortment of life-saving technologies targeting diseases that afflict billions of people in low-income countries, according to a new report from a group of 12 product development partnerships (PDPs), including the European Vaccine Initiative (EVI).

The report finds that, since 2010, these 12 PDPs have developed and brought to market 66 new drugs, vaccines, diagnostics and other technologies for a number of diseases—including tuberculosis, malaria, HIV, meningitis and sleeping sickness—that have reached more than 2.4 billion people in low-income countries. On limited budgets, PDPs build alliances between public, private, academic and philanthropic partners, enabling the sharing of financial risks and coordination of diverse expertise and experience.

“The European Vaccine Initiative (EVI) dates back to 1998, making it one of the first organisations to experiment with the PDP model for developing new products for neglected and poverty-related diseases. It is therefore heartening to see how successful this business model has become in delivering real innovation for global health”, said Ole Olesen, Executive Director of EVI

The report notes the stark contrast between the neglected disease product development space before and after the ascent of PDPs around the turn of the century. For example, from 1975 to 2000, a mere 16 of some 1400 newly developed medicines targeted diseases that mainly affected least-developed countries.[i]

Since their inception, PDPs have marshalled industry, government and philanthropic investments and generated new political capital to pack a once-barren global health R&D pipeline. Currently, the cumulative pipeline of the PDPs behind the report contains more than 375 new innovations in different stages of development, 25 percent of them now in late-stages. That is three times the size of the 2010 pipeline, which itself was many times larger than it was at the turn of the century.

Tapping PDPs to Fight COVID-19

The report also documents how PDPs have helped build global capacity and infrastructures to conduct cutting-edge medical research, including working with 550 clinical trial sites in some 80 mostly low-income countries. It notes that this global infrastructure has been tapped to speed the development of COVID-19 vaccines and treatments, and that PDPs have contributed in many other ways to fighting the pandemic. EVI is participating in the development of COVID-19 vaccines via TRANSVAC, a vaccine development infrastructure initiative led by EVI that offers free scientific, technical and other services to accelerate the development of urgently need vaccines for global health.

The report cautions that despite this impressive track record, the future success of PDPs will require a strong focus on late-stage research and efforts to ensure access to recently launched technologies, given the rapidly maturing pipeline of new products. For example, the report points out that there is a need to ensure funding for manufacturing and distribution as well as training health service providers. The report concludes that “with more products approaching and reaching the market than ever before, the need to invest in access is increasingly critical and urgent.”

For full report:

Download PDF • 8.62MB

References: [i] Grace C. Product Development Partnerships (PDPs): Lessons from PDPs established to develop new health technologies for neglected diseases. DFID Human Development Resource Centre. June 2, 2010.


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