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Infectious diseases: remove market barriers to new treatments

22nd May 2014

Posted By Paul Boughton


Highly-effective treatments and diagnostics for HIV, malaria, tuberculosis (TB) are emerging, some for the first time in decades, but global health initiative UNITAID’s 2013 Annual Report shows that considerable ‘market barriers’ need to be removed so these products can reach millions of people in low- and middle-income countries.

Entitled ‘Transforming Markets, Saving Lives,’ this report highlights barriers - including high prices, patents, and the lack of adapted formulations – but also demonstrates how UNITAID is addressing these challenges through investments to shape markets.

From accelerating market entry of new and affordable diagnostic tools to stimulating the development of paediatric formulations, the report shows that UNITAID is playing a key – and essential – role.

“This report is especially timely as it follows almost $160 million in new UNITAID market interventions announced on 6 May 2014, including investments to ensure low- and middle-income populations have access to new high performing treatments for hepatitis C and drug-resistant tuberculosis,” said Dr Philippe Douste Blazy, Chairman of the UNITAID Executive Board. “These are the first major global investments in these game-changing medicines from any large funder. “

UNITAID’s Annual Report brings together market intelligence collected by the organisation

UNITAID’s Annual Report brings together market intelligence collected by the organisation over the year to inform its investments. Among the topics covered in this report:

* UNITAID is leading the way in increasing access to new diagnostics for HIV/AIDS, malaria and TB. In 2013, this included new monitoring technologies for HIV, rapid TB diagnostics and the introduction of malaria testing in the private sector. Nevertheless, the report highlights the need for more new technologies enter the market to bring down prices.

* A lack of paediatric formulations contributes to the large mortality in children from these three diseases, as described in detail in the report. While UNITAID sped up access to child-adapted medicines for HIV and TB in 2013, more work is needed.

*Promising new medicines for HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C and tuberculosis are emerging, yet the report shows that patent barriers and high prices are barriers to access for low-income populations. UNITAID is leading the way in “upstream” work to reduce prices, address fragmented markets and find an equitable solution to intellectual property issues.





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