31 March 2015 — As the first-ever Eastern Partnership Ministerial Conference on Tuberculosis and Multidrug-Resistant Tuberculosis concludes in Riga, Latvia today, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) calls on the European Union to take concrete actions to boost the regional fight against TB, including tripling European funding for research and development (R&D).
With drug-resistant TB recognised as an emerging public health crisis, EU Member States and the European Commission must commit to filling funding gaps, including the large deficit in R&D funding for the next generation of tools to fight TB.
The World Health Organization estimates that US$2 billion is needed annually for TB R&D, but in 2013 only $676.7 million was spent in this critical area, with European government and public institutions contributing less than a sixth of that, around $110 million, according to Treatment Action Group, which monitors TB R&D spending. Despite a high burden of TB in the region, the European Union contributed just $35.8 million*. The US government, by comparison, spent $248.5 million.
MSF responds to the Riga Declaration outcome of the EU Ministerial meeting:
“The Riga Declaration is an important first step in stepping up the fight against TB in the European region, but must be followed up with concrete actions by all European governments and the European Commission, including a commitment to accelerate development of the next generation of tools to fight TB.
“The dire treatment outcomes faced by people with drug-resistant strains of TB can only be improved if concerted efforts are made to develop new and better treatment regimens for TB, including a pan-TB treatment regimen that can successfully treat everyone afflicted, including those with drug-resistant TB.
“Given that European public institutions contributed less than a sixth of the total global research and development costs for TB – which are already woefully low – MSF calls on European governments and the European Commission to triple European public funding for TB research, with the aim of delivering new and better tools for diagnosing, treating and preventing TB.
“Governments must support more innovative and productive ways of doing this work; for example, the pooling of research and development efforts, including funding, data, and intellectual property, can deliver results faster and more efficiently. R&D investments can be funded directly through grants, prizes and other incentives, so that patients don’t bear the burden of research costs later, through high-priced medicines.
“Current models for research and development are not delivering what TB patients and treatment providers urgently need, and we can’t wait another generation for new tools to beat back this deadly disease.”
- Dr Manica Balasegaram, Executive Director, MSF Access Campaign
*European Union funding is made up of funding from the European Commission ($16.8 million) and the European & Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP) ($19 million).