As not much research was being done on diseases like kala azar, sleeping sickness that hit the poorest in the world, Indian Council of Medical Research has joined hands with foreign institutions to develop drugs against killer diseases.
"Only 10 per cent of global health research is devoted to 'neglected diseases' that account for 90 per cent of the global disease burden," Dr NK Ganguly, director general ICMR told reporters here on Wednesday.
Diseases such as kala azar (leishmaniasis), sleeping sickness (human African trypanosomiasis), Chagas disease afflict the deeply impoverished in developing countries, he said. Bihar alone has 84,000 active kala azar cases at any moment, he said. Eastern UP and West Bengal also have cases though less than those in Bihar.
While the patients suffering from thee diseases desperately need new affordable, accessible and effective drugs in view of resistance and toxicity associated with the currently available drugs, these diseases do not represent a market profitable enough to attract research and development, he said.
The new partnershp, Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative DNDi), to be formally launched on 3rd next month in Geneva, involves "Medicins Sans Frontieres (MSF)", Institut Pasteur, Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI), the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation, and the Malaysian Ministry of Health besides ICMR.
The partnership aims to spend about 250 million dollars in the next 10-12 years. One third of this money would come from general public, 50 per cent from public instiututions and the rest from the donations, Pecoul said.
It would lead to development of affordable drugs and stregthen existing R and D capacity in developing countries affected by these diseases, he said.
Investments in drugs for neglected diseases is a mere trickle compared to that in drugs for diseases like cancer, hypertension, lifestyle disorders such as imotence, obesity and baldness, Pecoul said.
Ganguly said that the TDR - the Special Progrtamme for Resaerch and Training in Tropical Diseases (TDR) was the only body who was working in this field. It had led to the development of a new drug for kala azar with partnershp in ICMR.
"DNDi would facilitate availability of a product developed in one country to the other," according to Ganguly.