Imagine a world in which a single once-daily pill that can be taken without food, has few if any side effects, and can control the virus that leads to AIDS, is available, equally, to everyone who needs it.
Imagine if governments and health systems all over the world were ready to make use of new diagnostic tools and treatment for hepatitis C in time to keep an epidemic from exploding.
Imagine if accurate diagnoses, careful planning and adequate investment ensured that tuberculosis patients get the right treatment when they need it, and policies could unite with science to make the ancient disease history.
The New York-based global health research policy driving Treatment Action Group and the London-based HIV treatment advocacy group HIV-iBase imagine all of that, and more, basing their vision of responsive global public health management on existing and emerging innovations. The resulting 2013 Pipeline Report is a call to leaders of global health, government and research to commit to and coordinate efforts that will expedite access to effective diagnostic, treatment and biomedical prevention tools, and make sure they address the conditions of the places where they are most urgently needed. Dedicated to HIV-treatment activist Spencer Cox, who died last year at 44, the report speaks to both the history and future of investments in biomedical responses to public health threats.
The potentials for some of scenarios above exist now, and with informed action and political will the possibilities that science offers to effectively address preventable death and diseases could be realized, the report asserts. It outlines seven priorities to “Speed up the pipeline” of screening, treatment, cure, prevention tools from conception to access. They are:
- Continue to invest in better drugs and treatment combinations for all HIV indicators — this includes addressing price barriers;
- Expedite regulatory approval of new drugs, regimens everywhere — this includes avoiding “duplicative reviews” and using region wide processes when possible;
- Address developing world needs up front during drug development — including making drugs responsive to settings with limited resources;
- Close development and approval gaps between adult and pediatric medications — the report provides a striking table that proves what you might suspect: guess who has to wait longest for new medicines to reach them? (those with the least amount of time);
- Continue to simplify and streamline antiretroviral drug guidelines — with the World Health Organization’s recently consolidated and updated guidelines as a start;
- Assure the availability of new drug combinations when their use will improve outcomes in developing countries;
- Allow people in developing countries to benefit from generic innovations, and invest the savings in prevention and treatment programs.
The report can be read online, or downloaded here.