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Spanish Government Commits EUR 5 Million To DNDi\'sResearch For New Medicines For Neglected Diseases

7 March 2008
Spain's Agencia Española de Cooperación Internacional (AECI) granted EUR 5.0 million to the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi) for essential research and development (R&D) of drugs for neglected diseases such as human African trypanosomiasis, leishmaniasis, Chagas disease, and malaria. "We welcome this important grant and commitment from the Spanish government to support innovative R&D for the most neglected diseases to make available safe, effective, practical-to-use, and affordable drugs so desperately needed by patients," remarked Dr. Bernard Pecoul, Executive Director of DNDi.

"This grant will give hope to millions of patients who unacceptably die or suffer from these diseases in the poorest regions of the world." The grant, spread over two years, demonstrates the commitment of the Spanish government to support research and development on neglected diseases, and will provide core funding for DNDi to address the urgent needs of patients suffering from these poverty-related diseases. With a current portfolio of 18 projects, DNDi aims to develop 6 to 8 new, improved, and field-relevant drugs by 2014, including two new malaria treatments that are being delivered in 2008. "To fight against neglected diseases is to put a voice where there is only silence, and a light in the darkness. It is an ethic responsibility of the governments in developed countries. Spain is dedicated to reinforce its commitment in the following years, and Spanish Cooperation aims to become the leading force in this issue", said Leire Pajín, Spanish Secretary of International Cooperation.

"We cannot carry on allowing the lack of a solid and continuous international response to fight against neglected diseases. The effort of Spanish Cooperation, which has been multiplied by five during this government term period, only ushers an era in which Spanish agency wants to lead and add new private and public efforts as well, and to join other European partners in this sense. Although in 2004, Spain provided less than EUR 2 million, in 2008 we are planning to provide more than EUR 10 million for the fight against neglected diseases. "While the establishment of product development partnerships (PDPs) like DNDi represents an important evolution for neglected diseases research, these PDPs have mainly been supported by philanthropic organisations until now. For instance, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) catalyzed the creation of DNDi with a 2003 commitment of 25 million Euros. To sustain the momentum slowly achieved in this field of research, however, public sector investment similar to AECI's is urgently required to tackle public health needs.

Spanish Secretary of International Cooperation also stated: "To support the fight against neglected diseases means to work for the most vulnerable people, the poorest population, where Spanish Cooperation wants and must be present. On behalf of the Spanish Cooperation, it is a privilege for us to work together with DNDi. Their operational model based on their current portfolio of 18 projects and their business model of public-private partnership are reasonable ways to move forward. No country nor research group alone will be able to achieve significant development. This is why it is important to enhance all efforts and coordination as the best way to move ahead." Dr. Pecoul said, "By supporting drug research and development for neglected diseases, the Spanish government is significantly contributing in accelerating the fight against neglected diseases. This step is an encouraging sign that certain governments are starting to perceive the urgency to invest in R&D on neglected diseases."


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