Opinion article |

Development and Production of Drugs for Neglected Diseases in Endemic Countries: A Key to Solving the Medicines Crisis

DND Working Group Expert Paper

The landmark Conference on Drugs for Communicable Diseases convened by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in Paris, in October 1999, coincided with the announcement of the Nobel Peace Prize being awarded to MSF. Together, the two events affirmed the significance of drugs for neglected diseases as crucial for world peace and as a basic human rights issue requiring a concerted effort on the part of a wide variety of actors around the world.

At the heart of the problem is the fact that the development of new drugs and vaccines and the distribution of existing ones are not occurring at the level required to fight the tropical infectious diseases that plague a majority of the world’s population. MSF, together with the WHO, the Rockefeller Foundation, and various other concerned parties—including some within the pharmaceutical industry—have decided to tackle this problem. Although this is a daunting task, it is not hopeless. It will, however, require a sustained effort backed by real political will from governments around the globe.