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Public-Private Partnerships Play a Critical Role in Creating Solutions for Neglected Diseases

October 31, 2005

New York, October 31 — The International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) congratulates Merck, Bristol-Myers Squibb and the International Partnership for Microbicides (IPM) for their announcement today on a new collaboration to develop microbicides to protect women from HIV infection.  On the eve of TIME magazine’s Global Health Summit, convening 300 world leaders to tackle health crises, the agreement underscores the critical role public-private partnerships (PPPs) play in advancing research and development (R&D) for neglected diseases in poverty-stricken regions of the world.

Infectious diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis, and AIDS kill millions worldwide each year, causing immense human suffering and damage to entire communities and economies, and exacerbating political instability in some countries.  PPPs, lauded by the G8 leaders this past summer and in critical health legislation in the U.S., engage industry, the public, and non-profit sectors in accelerating product development and manufacturing of drugs, vaccines, and microbicides for these global killers.

"With greater participation between industry, government, and academia, there is every reason to expect we will be able to develop effective prevention technologies for HIV/AIDS and other diseases in the coming years," said Seth Berkley, MD, President and CEO of IAVI, who will address the Summit participants on Tuesday, November 1. "TIME summit leaders should embrace the Merck and Bristol-Myers Squibb's deal with IPM as an example of successful approaches the public and private sector are taking together to help solve some of the world's most serious health challenges." 

In the past few years, PPPs including the Aeras Global TB Vaccine Foundation, the Malaria Vaccine Initiative, and IPM, among others, have sought to increase participation of industry in R&D, advocating for new government incentives and regulatory measures to marshal the expertise of the biotechnology field. Global pharmaceutical giants such as GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), Merck, and Bristol-Myers Squibb, for example, bring tremendous expertise in process development, medicinal chemistry, structural biology and a range of other enabling vaccine technologies.

PPPs promote research that benefits less-developed country populations, and work to secure access to new vaccines, microbicides, and drugs for countries hardest hit by infectious disease - from sub-Saharan Africa to Latin America, Eastern Europe, and Asia. IPM's agreement with Merck and Bristol-Myers Squibb is another promising cooperative venture that can save lives and increase HIV prevention options for many in the developing world.