Global research into medicines and vaccines under threat due to global financial crisis
GLOBAL research and development into medicines and vaccines is under threat, with funding slashed around the world because of the impact of the global financial crisis, a new report reveals.
While Australia is one of the few countries to increase its funding in 2010 with an additional $3 million investment, the overall international funding dropped by $US125 million.
The G-Finder global report of 54 countries - compiled by not-for-profit group Policy Cures and funded by The Bill and Melissa Gates Foundation - reveals eight of the top 12 government funders cut neglected disease research and product development funding. It looks into government and privately funded research and development into diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and even neglected diseases like leprosy.
The United States funding was down $75m, the European Commission down $26m and Sweden, the Netherlands, Denmark, France, Canada, Spain, Germany and Norway are down between $14m and $3m. But the UK government significantly increased funding for neglected disease by $21 million. Australia is responsible for about one per cent of research and development globally, with about $25 million funding.
Policy Cures executive director Dr Mary Moran said Australia uses this funding for research more than product development but Australia could do more, especially since it has committed to doubling its aid budget over the next five years.
"The money is dropping away so fast. I think if we lose another $100 to $200 million next year, there won't be enough to sustain the pipeline," Dr Moran said. "We're going back to the dark ages. It took decades to get interest in this funding and now we risk losing a decade of investment that is on the verge of delivering badly needed new medicines and vaccines for the developing world," she said.
Funding for HIV alone has been cut by $US70 million.
There has been an increase in funding by pharmaceutical companies, with investment up by 28 per cent but philanthropic funding is down for the second year.