From HIV/AIDS prevention to efficient research partnerships and the “porcelain revolution” taking over the world, February was a jam-packed month for global health. Get a rundown on some of the headlines that caught our attention in this month’s selection of stories.
Diarrhea is a “silent emergency” for poor children living in remote areas, even though access to simple, low-cost solutions, like zinc and oral rehydration solution, could help to save their lives. BioSpectrum
A new study compares access to treatments on the World Health Organization’s Essential Medicines Lists and non-essential medicines around the globe. PLOS ONE
A working group has outlined a new plan to monitor drug and vaccine safety in low- and middle-income countries that lack post-market safety surveillance capacity. Impatient Optimists
Long timelines, high prices, and poor success rates are being addressed by a new National Institutes of Health initiative bringing together ten drug companies to overhaul the existing path of drug discovery. The Lancet
Since 1990, nearly 2 billion people have gained access to toilets, which has led to dramatic improvements in health, especially for young children. NPR
In December, PATH hosted a Transformative Innovations event in Palo Alto, with a panel discussion on ways that public and private sectors can work together to save lives. In three installments, we bring you excerpts of the discussion from our panelists Ponni Subbiah and Anurag Mairal, program leaders of PATH’s Drug Development and Technology Solutions programs, respectively, and Joel Segrè, an independent strategy consultant focused on product development and distribution challenges in global health. In our third post, Anurag addresses the difficulty of multi-directional innovation, the arc of developing a new solution, and the potential for global innovation hubs.
Q: One of the shifting paradigms of the future is that innovation will be multi-directional and come from anywhere in the world. What impacts do you see this having on the global health challenge?
AM: The biggest challenge with all of these great innovations is that they’re sometimes disconnected from the realities of what is needed on the ground in low-resource settings. The hurdles that innovative ideas face before they can become a sustainable global health solution are many. What is needed is a structured approach to sourcing and nurturing these innovations. Without a defined process, strong partnership amongst key stakeholders, and a well-designed framework, this bank of potential solutions (both conceptual and in early design phases) will be lost. Impact-driven health solutions would suffer if stakeholders were to see no evidence-based outcomes. Continue reading
In December, PATH hosted a Transformative Innovations event in Palo Alto, with a panel discussion on ways that public and private sectors can work together to save lives. In three installments, we’ll bring you excerpts of the discussion from our panelists Ponni Subbiah and Anurag Mairal, program leaders of PATH’s Drug Development and Technology Solutions programs, respectively, and Joel Segrè, an independent strategy consultant focused on product development and distribution challenges in global health. In our second post, Joel discusses the market segments most likely to benefit from new global health technologies.
Q: Who should be our first target users for global health innovations? There seems to be a tension between targeting the “poorest of the poor” and other market segments.
JS: Many global health organizations strive to target the “poorest of the poor” with various health services and technological innovations. If we are truly working to improve the lives of the maximum number of people, this “poorest of the poor” approach may be a mistake for two reasons.
Our monthly selection of news stories about global health research and development.
One of the co-discoverers of HIV now sees a “functional cure” for the virus. The Baltimore Sun
Already feeling nostalgic for 2013? Take a look at five moments that made malaria history last year. Making Malaria History blog
Did you know there’s a pill that can prevent HIV? No? You’re not alone. The New York Times
MSF researchers are taking the idea of “sharing is caring” to the next level by opening up access to humanitarian data, with the hope that it could lead to more health breakthroughs. SciDev.Net
A new drug treatment for malaria is not without its share of controversy. Dr. Li explores a “combined assault” to see if malaria can be eradicated from the island country of Comoros. The Economist
Development of a promising new compound to block HIV and other sexually transmitted infections receives a funding boost and offers exciting potential. Science
Johnson & Johnson’s new global health group is putting unmet health needs first. Fierce Biotech
The WHO’s prequalification of medicines programme ensures good quality drugs for HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis, and other priority diseases before they are distributed to resource-limited countries. Could insecure funding put this service at risk? The Guardian
In December, PATH hosted a Transformative Innovations event in Palo Alto, with a panel discussion on ways that public and private sectors can work together to save lives. In three installments, we’ll bring you excerpts of the discussion from our panelists Ponni Subbiah and Anurag Mairal, program leaders of PATH’s Drug Development and Technology Solutions programs, respectively, and Joel Segrè, an independent strategy consultant focused on product development and distribution challenges in global health. In our first post, Ponni shares her insights into what makes a partnership successful and reflects on the potential for innovation coming from nontraditional sources.
Reposted with permission from . The Curious Wavefunction on the Scientific American blog network.
This is part 1 of a series of posts delving into the fundamental scientific challenges in drug discovery. Here are the other parts: 2
Often you will hear people talking about why drugs are expensive: it’s the greedy pharmaceutical companies, the patent system, the government, capitalism itself. All these factors contribute to increasing the price of a drug, but one very important factor often gets entirely overlooked: Drugs are expensive because the science of drug discovery is hard. And it’s just getting harder. In fact purely on a scientific level, taking a drug all the way from initial discovery to market is considered harder than putting a man on the moon, and there’s more than a shred of truth to this contention. Continue reading
We’re excited to announce involvement in a public-private partnership to advance gains against HIV/AIDS in the developing world. The signing of a licensing agreement last month with pharmaceutical company Janssen enables PATH and our partners to develop a new drug formulation of rilpivirine. A version of rilpivirine is already on the market as a highly potent, once-daily oral treatment for HIV-infected patients. The new partnership will seek to develop an injectable form of rilpivirine that could become a new pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) intervention against HIV, providing long-lasting protection against infection and potentially better patient adherence than other products that are used more frequently.
What comes to mind when you think of drug development?
Ever feel like you can’t see the forest for the trees? In everyday life, it’s easy to get bogged down in details. This can be especially true in a field like drug development where it can take ten years (under the best circumstances) or more to see your work come to fruition. In this final post in our Drug Development 101 series, we asked our staff to reflect on the question, “What comes to mind when you think of drug development?” A few of their responses appear below.
If you haven’t read them yet, don’t miss the first two posts in our series: A Step-by-Step Guide to Drug Development and Drug Development—It’s Not for the Faint of Heart.
Drug development—it’s not for the faint of heart
Hing Sham, PhD, joined PATH recently as head of research and preclinical development for the Drug Development program. Hing comes to us after more than 30 years in the private pharmaceutical industry, where he led major projects for various diseases, including HIV, cancer, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s. For the second part of our Drug development 101 three-part series, Hing spoke to us about the risks associated with drug development and the intricacies involved in bringing a drug to market.
Missed the first post in Drug development 101? Read A Step-by-Step Guide to Drug Development here.
Q: Drug discovery and development is a long process. Estimates of the cost to develop a drug up to the point of regulatory approval can range from US$150 million to $1.3 billion. Could you summarize drug development in just a few words?
A: In a few words, drug development is not for the faint of heart! What I mean by that is drug development is one of the most complicated and high-risk businesses in the world.
When you think about what we’re trying to do, which is basically to correct a physiological process so it functions the same way it would in a healthy individual, it’s very complex and riskier even than going to the casino. In drug development, from choosing the right target to successfully completing multiple phases of clinical trials to clearing regulatory hurdles, there are many things that can go wrong. Under the best circumstances, your success rate is around 20 percent. It’s definitely a worthwhile endeavor, but each new hurdle brings with it a new set of anxieties.
A Step-by-Step Guide to Drug Development
Drug development is a long, complex, and risky process. Estimates of the cost to develop a drug can range from US$150 million to $1.3 billion up to the point of regulatory approval, and the process can take upward of a decade.
In this first post from our blog series Drug Development 101, we’re providing a step-by-step overview of what goes into each phase of drug development. Our investigational new drug for diarrheal disease, iOWH032 (currently in phase 2 trials), serves as an example.