Study finds significant increase in drug approvals for neglected diseases

'Big Three' of HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis account for more than three-quarters of drugs in development

BOSTON — Almost twice as many drugs for neglected diseases have received regulatory approval around the world over the past few years compared with the beginning of the last decade, according to a new study.

Tufts University's Center for the Study of Drug Development found that between 2000 and 2008, an average of 2.6 new drugs were approved to treat neglected diseases each year, a number that increased to five per year between 2009 and 2012. Drugs for HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis accounted for 81% of the the products in development, while HIV/AIDS and malaria accounted for 60% of recent approvals. The study appeared in the Tufts CSDD July-August Impact Report.

"The trend in approvals is clearly going in the right direction, but annual research-and-development spending to treat neglected diseases has leveled off at $3 billion in total after rising rapidly from 2000 to 2007, which is a cause for concern," Tufts CSDD assistant professor and lead study author Joshua Cohen said. "While increased approvals may result in greater access to new medicines, policy makers need to ensure that safe, effective and easy-to-administer products are adopted by healthcare systems, that they are affordable and that they reach the people who need them."


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