Cuts to the R&D programmes in the United States (US) could have a devastating impact on a number of important healthcare initiatives, including the world's first malaria vaccine.
The latest report produced by the Global Health Technologies Coalition (GHTC) states that "cutting funding for global health and R&D programs would barely make a dent in reducing the US federal deficit but would have a crippling impact on people’s health and lives around the world.”
As a result of the cuts, some estimates predict that global health initiatives such as the State Department and US Agency for International Development (USAID) could lose $482 million, while the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which is supporting a new dengue vaccine, could stand to lose as much as $2 billion. The cuts could also hit R&D programmes funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the Department of Defense (DoD), who are helping advance a promising AIDS vaccine candidate.
The budget sequestration process could jeopardise initiatives that have put hundreds of new drugs and vaccines into the product pipeline. The GHTC report acknowledges that previous US government investments in research have led to "some of the greatest
advances in global health to date", a list that includes the MenAfriVac vaccine that targets 100 million people in Africa's meningitis belt. New breakthroughs that are still in the pipeline include:
Â· New vaccines for neglected tropical diseases such as Chagas disease and leishmaniasis
Â· The RTS,S malaria vaccine
Â· Research that has brought researchers closer than ever to a preventive HIV vaccine
The report states that "a continued and consistent US investment in R&D, supporting all stages of the global health research pipeline, will provide the momentum needed to push promising new tools over the research finish line. These budget constraints are resulting in harmful reductions in US support for global health R&D, which put the nation's legacy as a scientific and humanitarian leader at risk."
The nature of the R&D process means that once funding is interrupted, many R&D projects halt and it is very difficult to pick up the process again in the future. The report warns that such a halt in the R&D process causes scientific regression and undermines past investments.
GHTC calls for a new five-year strategy, concluding that "there is too much to lose if the United States pulls back from this legacy now" and urges that "US commitment must be renewed."
Are you concerned by the cuts outlined in the GHTC report?
Do you agree with the GHTC report?
Are there any other vaccine initiatives that you think would be affected by the cuts?
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If you'd like to hear more about strategy and innovation in vaccines, you might be interested in attending the World Vaccine Congress & Expo 2013, 16-18 April 2013, at the Gaylord National Hotel and Convention Center, Washington DC.