Pharma industry agrees collaboration to tackle non-communicable disease

The pharmaceutical sector launched a Framework for Action to tackle non-communicable diseases including cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes and chronic respiratory diseases that are posing a threat to public health, and public and private finances worldwide.

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The industry’s ten-point framework scopes out specific areas of action including innovation, access and affordability of drugs, prevention and health education. It also underscores the essential role of partnerships and dialogue in implementing the framework.

The framework confirms the industry’s crucial role in continued investment in R&D programmes to develop drugs for the prevention and treatment of non-communicable disease, with over 1,500 products in the pipeline currently. It also commits the industry to target its innovation towards the specific needs of the developing world. To this end, in addition to the framework, there will be a programme of research, to improve understanding of the specific needs of developing world populations.

The framework was presented at a meeting in New York last week, which was held to prepare the ground for a United Nations summit in September that aims to secure commitment to tackle the rise of NCDs.

The pharma industry hopes its Framework for Action will provide a basis on which it can partner with the people on the ground, governments and the World Health Organisation, to find ways to address prevention, care and treatment for non-communicable diseases in the developing world.

Such diseases are the leading cause of death and disease worldwide, killing more than 36 million people in 2008, with nearly 80 per cent of these deaths occurring in low- and middle-income countries. Deaths from non-communicable diseases are projected to increase by 15 per cent globally between 2010 and 2020. In part, this is due to progress in combating infectious diseases through economic growth, development, and better treatment options; but it is also largely linked to lifestyle choices.

The Framework for Action focuses on the areas where the research-based pharmaceutical industry can make the most significant difference, such as innovation, access and affordability, but also prevention and health education, according to Eduardo Pisani, Director General of the industry body International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers & Associations (IFPMA). “The framework is just the beginning; our vision is to work with others to identify what can be done in practice to help poor people to access the care and treatment they need.”

Pisani said the framework represents, “A paradigm shift for the research-based pharmaceutical industry. It puts our industry’s collective global health responsibilities firmly at the forefront of how we see our role in the global health community. Let’s be clear: it is not about altruism, but rather about revolutionising our relationship [with] others. Times are tough for governments, business and patients.”

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Related subjects: Cancer, Diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, non-communicable disease