TB research funding reaches new heights but remains insufficient

Investment for tuberculosis (TB) research reached an unprecedented high of $772 million in 2017, according to the report released this week by Treatment Action Group (TAG) and the Stop TB Partnership. However, in spite of this progress, funding for TB research remains insufficient, and is more than $1.2 billion behind the $2 billion annual target required.

At the recent United Nations (UN) High-Level Meeting (HLM) on TB, UN member states committed "to mobilise sufficient and sustainable financing" for TB research "with the aim of increasing overall global investments to $2 billion, in order to close the US$1.3 billion gap in funding annually."

The new TAG report found that while funding for TB research is showing some signs of positive progression, we are still far from where we need to be. In order to meet the Stop TB Partnership’s Global Plan to End TB (Global Plan) target of investing $9 billion from 2016 to 2020, the world will now have to invest $7.5 billion in the three years from 2018 to 2020, since investments in 2016 and 2017 only amounted to $1.5 billion combined.

The report shows that in 2017, 66 percent ($510 million) of global TB funding came from public sources, 19 percent ($145 million) from philanthropies, 11 percent ($85 million) from private industry, and four percent ($32 million) from multilateral entities. Public funding showed the greatest growth over 2016, with an increase of $27 million.

TAG’s executive director, Mark Harrington, said: "Over 60 percent of TB R&D funding comes from the public sector, so government action is critical.

"TAG is calling on all governments to step up their investments in TB R&D by contributing their fair share. If each country spent just 0.1% of its overall expenditures on research and development on TB research, we could fill the current funding gap."

In response to the release of the report, Grania Brigden, The Union’s Deputy Director, TB and HIV Department, said:  “We call on political leaders to honour their commitments made at the UN HLM on TB, and bridge the TB R&D funding gap that is urgently needed. If all countries paid their fair share, in line with the gross domestic expenditure on R&D (GERD) approach, we would be able to ensure that the R&D investment for 2018 -2019 exceeds a $USD 1 billion for the first time."

“Last month, The Union hosted the first TBScience, a dedicated basic science pre-conference, and highlighted the many new and exciting advances in TB R&D that are being made. It is vital that adequate investment is found to continue to take these developments forward and to enable the END TB strategy goals to be achieved.

“Additional funding for TB R&D, particularly from public and philanthropic donors, needs to ensure that there are provisions on data sharing and ensuring access and affordability of the final product, in line with The Life Prize, which delinks the cost of R&D from the final cost of medicines.”

Read the full report.