Glob­al fund­ing for ne­glect­ed dis­ease R&D hit record high in 2017 — with meaty con­tri­bu­tions by UK, EC, In­dia and Ger­many

About a decade ago, in the throes of the glob­al fi­nan­cial cri­sis when most coun­tries fo­cused their re­sources on stim­u­lat­ing their do­mes­tic economies, the Unit­ed States’ NIH over­whelm­ing­ly con­tributed to glob­al fund­ing for ne­glect­ed dis­ease R&D. But oth­er na­tions are now catch­ing up. In 2017, glob­al in­vest­ment for ne­glect­ed dis­eases hit record lev­els at $3.5 bil­lion — the largest in­crease since 2008 — dri­ven large­ly by the UK and the Eu­ro­pean Com­mis­sion (EC), along with In­dia and Ger­many, ac­cord­ing to a key sur­vey fund­ed by the Bill and Melin­da Gates Foun­da­tion.

The G-FIND­ER sur­vey is con­duct­ed by Pol­i­cy Cures Re­search, which came out with its first re­port in 2008, track­ing glob­al pub­lic, pri­vate, and phil­an­thropic in­vest­ment in­to prod­uct R&D for ne­glect­ed dis­eases, which chiefly im­pact de­vel­op­ing coun­tries and are not giv­en sig­nif­i­cant R&D at­ten­tion. For the 2017 re­port, 197 or­ga­ni­za­tions com­plet­ed the sur­vey, which en­com­passed 33 ne­glect­ed dis­eases and all rel­e­vant prod­uct types: drugs, vac­cines, di­ag­nos­tics, mi­cro­bi­cides and vec­tor con­trol prod­ucts from ba­sic re­search to post-ap­proval stud­ies.

Mil­lions of lives are plagued by in­fec­tious dis­eases like HIV/AIDS, tu­ber­cu­lo­sis, and malar­ia or oth­er par­a­sitic dis­eases, which dis­pro­por­tion­ate­ly af­fect low and mid­dle in­come coun­tries — where ac­cess to health care, drink­ing wa­ter and hy­gien­ic liv­ing con­di­tions is not typ­i­cal­ly guar­an­teed. In­vest­ment to di­min­ish the bur­den of pover­ty-re­lat­ed and ne­glect­ed dis­eases, and their as­so­ci­at­ed mor­bid­i­ty and mor­tal­i­ty, is im­per­a­tive to ex­tri­cate suf­fer­ers from the vi­cious cy­cle of pover­ty and dis­ease. Ac­cord­ing to the END fund, ne­glect­ed trop­i­cal dis­eases af­fect more than 1.5 bil­lion of the world’s most im­pov­er­ished peo­ple, in­clud­ing 836 mil­lion chil­dren, and kill more than 170,000 peo­ple each year.

Da­ta from the G-FIND­ER re­port showed that glob­al in­vest­ment in­to ne­glect­ed dis­ease R&D jumped 7% ($232 mil­lion) over 2016, and in­di­cat­ed for the first time since 2009 that there has been two con­sec­u­tive years of growth in glob­al fund­ing for ne­glect­ed dis­ease R&D.

Back in 2009, the NIH pro­vid­ed near­ly 98% of the net over­all rise in spend­ing and most of those re­sources were di­rect­ed to­ward aca­d­e­m­ic in­sti­tu­tions that typ­i­cal­ly fo­cus on ba­sic re­search, as well as small US-based bio­phar­ma com­pa­nies. In 2017, the in­jec­tion dri­ven by in­vest­ments from the UK, EC, In­dia and Ger­many al­so came from the pub­lic sec­tor, but that fund­ing was chiefly di­rect­ed at or­ga­ni­za­tions that fo­cus on clin­i­cal tri­als and prod­uct de­vel­op­ment.

In­vest­ments from emerg­ing fun­ders, such as Uni­taid, Médecins Sans Fron­tières, Gavi, and the gov­ern­ments of Japan, In­dia and Brazil were un­der­scored for 2016, and each of these en­ti­ty’s raised their fund­ing in 2017 with the ex­cep­tion of Brazil, where a cap was im­posed on pub­lic sec­tor fund­ing. In­dia sharply raised its fund­ing by 38% ($21 mil­lion) — and ac­count­ed for the fourth largest pub­lic fun­der over­all. Mean­while South Africa al­so upped its con­tri­bu­tion by 24% ($2.7 mil­lion) — the largest ever in­vest­ment as a slice of GDP pro­vid­ed by a low- and mid­dle-in­come coun­try.

In terms of high in­come coun­tries, siz­able in­creas­es by the UK (up 89% or $87 mil­lion) and EC (up 50% or $40 mil­lion) nar­rowed the gap be­tween sec­ond and third high­est con­trib­u­tors and the biggest con­trib­u­tor of all — the US — which al­so lift­ed its fund­ing mar­gin­al­ly by 1.5% ($23 mil­lion).

De­spite hit­ting record highs in fund­ing in 2017, not a sin­gle gov­ern­ment met the WHO rec­om­men­da­tion that mem­ber states ded­i­cate at least 0.01% of their GDP to re­search in­to the health needs of de­vel­op­ing coun­tries, the re­port high­light­ed. “On­ly two coun­tries – the US with 0.0082% and the UK with 0.0071% – were even close, with no oth­er coun­try even reach­ing half the tar­get lev­el. In fact, over the 11 year his­to­ry of the G-FIND­ER re­port, on­ly the US has ever met this tar­get (which it did be­tween 2007 and 2012),” the re­port not­ed.

Fund­ing by the bio­phar­ma in­dus­try inched low­er in 2017 for both big phar­ma and small drug and de­vice de­vel­op­ers, fol­low­ing five con­sec­u­tive years of growth. But this may be due to de­vel­op­ments in in­dus­try pipelines — for ex­am­ple the no­table rise and fall in malar­ia drug fund­ing was dri­ven by the late-stage de­vel­op­ment and even­tu­al ap­proval of GSK’s malar­ia vac­cine tafeno­quine, now sold as Krintafel.

HIV/AIDS, malar­ia and tu­ber­cu­lo­sis to­geth­er in­spired more than two-thirds (70% or $2,496 mil­lion) of 2017 fund­ing, in line with pre­ced­ing years. With a pletho­ra of treat­ments akin to a cure now avail­able for hep C, the drop in fund­ing rel­e­gat­ed the dis­ease to the group of ail­ments that get less than 0.5% of glob­al fund­ing each year.


Paul Hudson, Sanofi CEO (Getty Images)

Sanofi CEO Paul Hud­son has $23B burn­ing a hole in his pock­et. And here are some hints on how he plans to spend that

Sanofi has reaped $11.1 billion after selling off a big chunk of its Regeneron stock at $515 a share. And now everyone on the M&A side of the business is focused on how CEO Paul Hudson plans to spend it.

After getting stung in France for some awkward politicking — suggesting the US was in the front of the line for Sanofi’s vaccines given American financial support for their work, versus little help from European powers — Hudson now has the much more popular task of managing a major cash cache to pull off something in the order of a big bolt-on. Or two.

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As­traZeneca trum­pets the good da­ta they found for Tagris­so in an ad­ju­vant set­ting for NSCLC — but many of the ex­perts aren’t cheer­ing along

AstraZeneca is rolling out the big guns this evening to provide a salute to their ADAURA data on Tagrisso at ASCO.

Cancer R&D chief José Baselga calls the disease-free survival data for their drug in an adjuvant setting of early stage, epidermal growth factor receptor-mutated NSCLC patients following surgery “momentous.” Roy Herbst, the principal investigator out of Yale, calls it “transformative.”

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The Avance Clinical leadership team: CEO Yvonne Lungershausen, Sandrien Louwaars - Director Business Development Operations, Gabriel Kremmidiotis - Chief Scientific Officer, Ben Edwards - Chief Strategy Officer

How Aus­tralia De­liv­ers Rapid Start-up and 43.5% Re­bate for Ear­ly Phase On­col­o­gy Tri­als

About Avance Clinical

Avance Clinical is an Australian owned Contract Research Organisation that has been providing high-quality clinical research services to the local and international drug development industry for 20 years. They specialise in working with biotech companies to execute Phase 1 and Phase 2 clinical trials to deliver high-quality outcomes fit for global regulatory standards.

As oncology sponsors look internationally to speed-up trials after unprecedented COVID-19 suspensions and delays, Australia, which has led the world in minimizing the pandemic’s impact, stands out as an attractive destination for early phase trials. This in combination with the streamlined regulatory system and the financial benefits including a very favourable exchange rate and the R & D cash rebate makes Australia the perfect location for accelerating biotech clinical programs.

Pablo Legorreta, founder and CEO of Royalty Pharma AG, speaks at the annual Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills, California (Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Cap­i­tal­iz­ing Pablo: The world’s biggest drug roy­al­ty buy­er is go­ing pub­lic. And the low-key CEO di­vulges a few se­crets along the way

Pablo Legorreta is one of the most influential players in biopharma you likely never heard of.

Over the last 24 years, Legorreta’s Royalty Pharma group has become, by its own reckoning, the biggest buyer of drug royalties in the world. The CEO and founder has bought up a stake in a lengthy list of the world’s biggest drug franchises, spending $18 billion in the process — $2.2 billion last year alone. And he’s become one of the best-paid execs in the industry, reaping $28 million from the cash flow last year while reserving 20% of the cash flow, less expenses, for himself.

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Dan O'Day, Gilead CEO (Andrew Harnik, AP Images)

UP­DAT­ED: Gilead leas­es part­ner rights to TIG­IT, PD-1 in a $2B deal with Ar­cus. Now comes the hard part

Gilead CEO Dan O’Day has brokered his way to a PD-1 and lined up a front row seat in the TIGIT arena, inking a deal worth close to $2 billion to align the big biotech closely with Terry Rosen’s Arcus. And $375 million of that comes upfront, with cash for the buy-in plus equity, along with $400 million for R&D and $1.22 billion in reserve to cover opt-in payments and milestones..

Hotly rumored for weeks, the 2 players have formalized a 10-year alliance that starts with rights to the PD-1, zimberelimab. O’Day also has first dibs on TIGIT and 2 other leading programs, agreeing to an opt-in fee ranging from $200 million to $275 million on each. There’s $500 million in potential TIGIT milestones on US regulatory events — likely capped by an approval — if Gilead partners on it and the stars align on the data. And there’s another $150 million opt-in payments for the rest of the Arcus pipeline.

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Bryan Roberts, Venrock

Ven­rock sur­vey shows grow­ing recog­ni­tion of coro­n­avirus toll, wan­ing con­fi­dence in ar­rival of vac­cines and treat­ments

When Venrock partner Bryan Roberts went to check the results from their annual survey of healthcare leaders, what he found was an imprint of the pandemic’s slow arrival in America.

The venture firm had sent their form out to hundreds of insurance and health tech executives, investors, officials and academics on February 24 and gave them two weeks to fill it out. No Americans had died at that point but the coronavirus had become enough of a global crisis that they included two questions about the virus, including “Total U.S. deaths in 2020 from the novel coronavirus will be:”.

Roger Perlmutter, Merck R&D chief (YouTube)

UP­DAT­ED: Backed by BAR­DA, Mer­ck jumps in­to Covid-19: buy­ing out a vac­cine, part­ner­ing on an­oth­er and adding an­tivi­ral to the mix

Merck execs are making a triple play in a sudden leap into the R&D campaign against Covid-19. And they have more BARDA cash backing them up on the move.

Tuesday morning the pharma giant simultaneously announced plans to buy an Austrian biotech that has been working on a preclinical vaccine candidate, added a collaboration on another vaccine with the nonprofit IAVI and inked a deal with Ridgeback Biotherapeutics on an early-stage antiviral.

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David Hoey (Vaxxas)

In for the long vac­cine game, Mer­ck buys in­to patch de­liv­ery tech with pan­dem­ic po­ten­tial

When Merck dived into the R&D fray for a Covid-19 vaccine earlier this week, execs made it clear that they’re not necessarily looking to be first — with CEO Ken Frazier throwing cold water on the hotly-discussed 12- to 18-month timelines. But when it does emerge from behind, the pharma giant clearly expects to play a significant part.

Part of that will depend on next-generation delivery technology that reshapes the world’s imagination of a vaccine.

No­var­tis jumps in­to Covid-19 vac­cine hunt, as Big Phar­ma and big biotech com­mit to bil­lions of dos­es

After spending most of the pandemic on the sidelines, Novartis is offering its aid in the race to develop a Covid-19 vaccine.

AveXis, the Swiss pharma’s gene therapy subsidiary, has agreed to manufacture the vaccine being developed by Massachusetts Eye and Ear and Massachusetts General Hospital. The biotech will begin manufacturing this month, while the vaccine undergoes further preclinical testing. They’ve agreed to provide the vaccine for free for clinical trials beginning in the second half of 2020, but have not disclosed financials for after.

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