Today, PLoS Medicine Policy Forum asks this question. According to a press release from PLoS:
The first comprehensive survey of global spending on neglected disease R&D, published in this week's PLoS Medicine, finds that just over $US 2.5 billion was invested into R&D of new products in 2007, with three diseases--HIV/AIDS, TB, and malaria--receiving nearly 80% of the total.
However, the survey finds that many neglected diseases, responsible for killing millions of people in developing countries, are significantly underfunded.
The George Institute report indicates that aside from the big three (HIV, TB and malaria) most other diseases receive a very small percentage of available funding.
Sleeping sickness, leishmaniasis and Chagas disease collectively received only 4.9% of total global funding; the diarrhoeal illnesses surveyed collectively received 4.5% of global funding; the helminth (worm) infections received 2%; and bacterial pneumonia and meningitis received only 1.3%. Five diseases - leprosy, Buruli ulcer, trachoma, rheumatic fever, and typhoid and paratyphoid fever - each received less than $10 million or 0.4% of total global investment. For many of these diseases, funding was not enough to create even one new product.
The George Institute study (by Moran and colleagues) was commissioned by the B&M Gates foundation. The study indicates that the US government provides about 75% of the total research funding in these areas, with the NIH providing a big chunk of that, and private sources such as Gates contributing substantial portions . Sadly, the study concludes that decisions as to where to carry out research are very much influenced by special interest groups and insufficiently influenced by a rational decision making process. Also, many of the worlds richest countries are simply not contributing to this effort a all.
This is an OpenAccess publication, and you can find it here , and there is a video here.
Moran, Mary, Guzman, J., Ropars, A., McDonald, A., Jameson, N., Omune, B., Ryan, S., Wu, L. (2009). Neglected Disease Research and Development:
How Much Are We Really Spending?
PLoS Medicine Policy Forum DOI: http://medicine.plosjournals.org/perlserv/?request=get-document&doi=10.1371/journal.pmed.1000030
So, think B&M Gates intend to do anything about this?