Report shows slight increase in TB R&D funding, but not enough

A report published today by Treatment Action Group (TAG) shows that for the first time since 2005 funding for tuberculosis (TB) R&D was more than US$700 million in one year, but this is still hugely inadequate to meet the Sustainable Development Goals that must be reached to end the TB epidemic.

The report Tuberculosis Research Funding Trends, 2005 – 2016 presents data on global funding of tuberculosis (TB) from 2005 to the end of the fiscal year in 2016. The data show that TB R&D still only gets a third of what is needed to meet the funding targets set by the Stop TB Partnership – it needs an additional US$8.2 billion between now and 2020.

US$726.1 million was spent on TB R&D in 2016, an increase of US$105.5 million on the previous year.

For the fifth year in a row, private sector spending on TB R&D decreased compared with the year before, with the pharmaceutical industry at its lowest level of investment since 2009 ($78.5 million). The increase in funding for 2016 came mainly from public sector sources.

José Luis Castro, Executive Director of The Union, said: “Investment in TB R&D is a long way off from the US$9 billion needed to develop the medicines, diagnostics and vaccines we need to end the epidemic. Government ministers are meeting in Moscow next week to discuss strategies for eliminating TB. They should take a close look at this report and announce how they’ll work together to close the R&D funding gap.”

Grania Brigden, Project Lead for The Life Prize – an innovative mechanism being developed for TB drug and regimen R&D by The Union and other partners, acknowledged in the report – said: “We hope that in the next year, funders will come forward with new investments in R&D, especially for mechanisms that encourage collaboration and access to new products, like The Life Prize. By long term investment in TB R&D we can ensure that TB will no longer will be the number-one infectious-disease killer, and will join small pox and polio as diseases of the past.”

The report reminds all those that not growing the much needed investment for TB R&D is not an option, reminding all that the strongest case for a renewed commitment to TB R&D by governments and other stakeholders comes from the personal testimonies of a growing cadre of TB survivors who are speaking out about the consequences of limited scientific progress… TB will continue to elude detection for many, and the TB epidemic will evade all efforts to end it, unless the international community joins together to accelerate research and unlock the scientific progress needed to overcome TB.

Read the full report here