Who are the best — and worst — among the major pharmas at developing drugs for the poor?

A new report out today cites the heroes — and zeroes — among major pharma companies when it comes to doing drug R&D for the world’s poor.

The non-profit Access to Medicine Foundation’s annual R&D report cites 5 companies for handling close to two-thirds of all the priority R&D work needed for under-served areas of the world. They’re led by GlaxoSmithKline, which has come out on top for 6 years running after making this field a top priority for the company.

Johnson & Johnson, Merck KGaA, Novartis and Sanofi round out the list of top performers handling the bulk of the work on a set of key disease areas: malaria, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, Chagas disease and leishmaniasis.

Altogether the report cites 298 priority projects for emerging countries, out of 1,314 programs in the pipeline. And there’s a lot left to be done. Their report notes:

A total of 91 of the 139 identified gaps are unaddressed, and 16 prioritised diseases have no projects at all. The average number of projects across the 45 diseases is only two. Diseases with the least attention here include several haemorrhagic fevers, several parasitic worm diseases, syphilis, Buruli ulcer, cholera and diarrhoea caused by E. coli. Some of these are rarer diseases, while others have weaker global health community push and donor support.

So who’s not pulling their weight in non-profit R&D? The report lists the bottom 5: Roche, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Eli Lilly, and Boehringer Ingelheim along with Novo Nordisk at the very bottom, which have no non-profit R&D projects in the pipeline.

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Research Scientist - Immunology
Recursion Pharmaceuticals Salt Lake City, UT
Director of Operations
Atlas Venture Cambridge, MA

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