Drug firms neglect research into diseases affecting the poor
- By: Lynn Eaton
Drugs companies are failing to develop new drugs for diseases that predominantly affect poor people because they are not profitable enough, says a report from the international medical aid agency Médecins Sans Frontières.
“Drugs are not developed according to public health need, but according to profitability,” said Dr Bernard Pécoul, director of the agency's Campaign for Access to Essential Medicines.
The report describes the research and development activities of 11 major pharmaceutical companies, representing combined sales of nearly $117bn (£78bn). The medical aid agency specifically asked them for the overall resources devoted to malaria, tuberculosis, sleeping sickness, Chagas' disease, and leishmaniasis.
Eight of the 11 companies spent nothing in the last financial year on research and development on sleeping sickness, leishmaniasis, or Chagas' disease. Two reported spending on malaria. Five reported spending on tuberculosis, but seven reported spending less than 1% of their research and development budget on any of