Forum 11Press Release 3 Call for a “master plan” by DerekFine


									                                                                           Forum 11/Press Release 3

Call for a “master plan” to make drugs accessible to the poor

        Beijing, 31 Oct? --Using the model of an anti-malaria drug developed in China and turned
into a mass-manufactured product to help millions, plenary speakers at the annual meeting of the
Global Forum for Health Research focused Wednesday on equitable access to innovative drugs
and research.

         “It is fitting that this discussion is taking place in China, because if you look globally, one of
the innovations that is having the most impact on global health at the moment is the artemisinin
derivative, the basis of anti-malarial therapy,” said Robert Ridley, Director, Special Programme for
Research and Training in Tropical Diseases (TDR). He recounted efforts in the 1970s by the
Chinese authorities that led to the development of the artemisinin and the partnerships they made
that resulted in the manufacture the anti-malaria product. “Those drugs represent the largest
scale-up of manufactured introduction of any drug in the history of mankind,” Ridley said. “And all
that for a drug that is not making a profit!”

        Susanne Huttner, Director, Science, Technology and Industry, Organisation for Economic
Co-operation and Development (OECD), told the session that joint efforts in the USA by the
University of California at Berkeley and OneWorldHealth to use innovative synthetic biology to
reproduce the anti-malaria drug have succeeded and will make it even more accessible for people
in developing countries. “They have been remarkably successful in a short period of time in driving
down the cost 10,000 fold,” she said.

       She also commented that she sees a new vision at research universities around the world:
“where people are less often thinking of how they are going to have lucrative careers in the big
pharmaceutical industries of the world but more about how they are going to have satisfying

        Tissa Vitarana, Minister of Science and Technology of Sri Lanka, also addressed the
meeting, reminding participants that poverty is a major factor that also restricts access to modern
medicine, technology and quality health care providers. “The rich/poor gap is also a technology
gap,” he said. He said he believes Sri Lanka should be able to develop capacity and mechanisms

        Also speaking at the session was Detlef Niese, Head of External Affairs, Novartis Pharma
AG, the Swiss pharmaceutical company that produces Coartem, the commercial
artemisinin-based combination therapy used against malaria. He emphasized that partnerships
and innovation are important in contributing to the production of new drugs but what is really
needed is “a master plan” that includes a pipeline of development, public-private partnerships and
sustainable funding mechanisms.

        About 800 researchers and policy-makers are taking part in Forum 11, the annual meeting
of the Global Forum for Health Research, in Beijing. “Equitable Access” is the theme for the
meeting, the first in China for the Swiss-based not-for-profit organization.

Contacts - For further information, please consult or contact:

• Madeleine von Holzen, Forum 11 Press Officer, Global Forum for Health Research, M + 86 136 2111 5854 T +4179 305 86 25

• Susan Jupp, Head of External Relations, Global Forum for Health Research M +86 132 6136 6439 T +4122 791 3450

• Ze Yu, Forum 11 Press Officer, Ministry of Health, People's Republic of China T +86 10 6879 2084 M +86 158 0120 8145

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