Drug Development Global Program

Making malaria history for everyone, everywhere

By: Hope Randall, Communications Associate for the MACEPA program at PATH

Two African children, a girl and boy, smile in front of a bednet.

Mosquitoes have taken a special interest in me for as long as I can remember. In one of my earliest memories, at about 5 years old, I walk into the kitchen for breakfast, and my mother gasps. While I was sleeping, a mosquito enjoyed a banquet and left several large, itchy welts on my face, evidence of a mild allergic reaction. It is no different today; every summer, I not only get more mosquito bites than the average person, but also the kind of bites that one would expect from gigantic mutant mosquitoes twice the average size.

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How can we defeat malaria?

Malaria is a significant public health and economic burden worldwide. Each year, the mosquito-borne disease sickens more than 200 million people and kills more than 620,000—most of them children under five in sub-Saharan Africa.

However, there’s reason to be hopeful. Working together, endemic countries, donors, organizations, and communities have increased access to effective malaria prevention, diagnosis, and treatment for hundreds of millions of people. Since 2000, malaria death rates among young children have been cut in half, and more than 3.3 million lives have been saved.

Be a part of the conversation and tell us what you’re doing to defeat malaria!

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Drug development news digest—March 2014

Learn a thing or two in this month’s news digest. For instance, did you know that over the last century, drug resistant parasites from western Cambodia have time and again made the most effective antimalarial drugs obsolete? Or that the TV audience for cricket dwarfs most other televised sports? What does cricket have to do with global health? Read on for the details.

A former US president’s daughter reveals that she’s “obsessed with diarrhea” at the South by Southwest festival. ABC News

In the photo exhibition “Malaria: Blood, Sweat, and Tears,” photographer Adam Nadel puts a human face on malaria. Slate

The TV audience for cricket dwarfs most televised sports, including the Superbowl. See how WASH advocates are using this reach to promote sanitation and good hygiene around the 2014 T20 World Cup. Impatient Optimists

After starting antiretroviral treatment just four hours after birth, a nine-month-old child is now said to be HIV negative. BBC News

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The ripple effect: How WASH policies help build healthy communities

Posted by Rachel Wilson on Wednesday, March 19, 2014. Reposted with permission from the DefeatDD blog.

Students collecting water from a local borehole at Mukuyu School in Mazabuaka District, Zambia

Think about all the ways you used water in your daily routine this morning. You probably showered, brushed your teeth, used the toilet, washed your hands, all before making a cup of coffee with water whose safety you assumed without question. It is easy to forget that we didn’t always have such immediate access in the United States.

As we began to learn that these simple precautions kept us healthy, and in extreme cases, kept highly contagious diseases from decimating entire communities, this evidence informed our policies: today, businesses and schools require public restrooms, and urban infrastructure must meet pre-determined health standards for waste and sewage management. Prioritizing public access to safe drinking water, clean toilets, and hand washing facilities lead to laws that protect us daily, whether or not we realize it.

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Drug development news digest—February 2014

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

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Innovation. Inspiration. Transformation. Part 3

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.

Portrait of Anurag MairalQ:    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 »

Innovation. Transformation. Inspiration. Part 2

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.

Portrait of Joel Segrè, MBA, BS, Independent ConsultantQ:    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.

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Drug development news digest

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

Innovation. Transformation. Inspiration. Part 1

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.

Semisynthetic artemisinin production launch Continue reading »

Why drugs are expensive: It’s the science, stupid.

. 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 »