TOKYO, June 1, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Global Health Innovative Technology Fund (GHIT Fund), which has been dedicated to leveraging Japanese expertise and capacity for health innovations to save lives in the world's poorest countries, announced today that it has secured commitments of over US$200 million* to its replenishment for its next phase of work, allowing it to move the most advanced tools out of the lab, and into the hands of those who need them most.
GHIT's funding partners, including the Government of Japan (GOJ), private companies, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the Wellcome Trust have committed over US$200 million in a significant vote of confidence in the institution's work. The new commitment for GHIT's second phase is double the initial US$100 million investment GHIT received when it was created in 2013. The GOJ will contribute roughly half of the replenishment, with other partners splitting the remaining half.
Leveraging Japan's historic leadership in global health and innovation, along with the unique technology and knowhow of its domestic and global partners, GHIT invests in R&D projects to develop new medicines, vaccines and diagnostics to address a range of infectious diseases, including HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis and neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). It is the first public-private partnership of its kind for global health research and development (R&D), involving government, private companies, and private foundations.
"In just four years, the GHIT's unique public-private partnership model has dramatically increased the global health community's capacity to develop technologies that can effectively battle the infectious diseases that afflict roughly one-third of the world's population," said GHIT Fund CEO BT Slingsby. "This work is moving us closer to achieving universal health coverage and human security goals."
GHIT has moved quickly to fill a gap in R&D of new tools for malaria, tuberculosis and NTDs. In just four years, GHIT has broadened its funding partnerships substantially from eight core members in 2013 to almost twice that number today.
The fund has invested approximately $100 million in 61 global product development partnerships that leverage Japanese innovation and capacities in pharmaceuticals. Eight of GHIT's 23 novel screening programs have advanced into the next stage of development; 6 clinical trials are under way in the developing world; and 2 projects have achieved proofs-of-concept (Phase II trials).
GHIT's portfolio is characterized by products that are not only novel, but transformative for global health. This includes the first-ever pediatric formulation of the gold-standard drug for schistosomiasis, a water-borne parasitic disease linked to numerous acute and chronic health conditions. Other innovations include malaria drugs and vaccines, a TB vaccine that prevents initial TB infection—not just the later stages of active disease—and a new treatment strategy for Chagas disease, a tropical parasitic disease that can lead to heart failure.
"Japan has shown strong leadership in accelerating scientific advances that save lives and have the potential to help millions escape the cycle of poverty," said Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. "From investments in research and development for neglected tropical diseases, to support for the Global Fund's progress in combatting AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, and now through a continued commitment to GHIT, Japan continues to play a critical role in improving the lives of the world's poorest."
"Fighting the world's most neglected diseases has long been a priority for Japan," said Minister Yasuhisa Shiozaki of Japan's Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare. "We believe in universal health coverage where all have access to the medicines and treatment they need. Given our scientific and technological strength, it is Japan's responsibility to work with others to eliminate some of the world's most intractable diseases, such as malaria, tuberculosis, Chagas disease, and schistosomiasis."
As GHIT prepares to enter the second five-year phase of its work, it plans to broaden its role in advancing R&D product development to include additional partnerships that further facilitate access to and delivery of the tools that emerge from its pipeline. To reinforce the bonds between R&D, access and delivery, and strengthen health systems, GHIT will be strengthening its collaboration with global health entities, such as Japan's Pharmaceutical and Medical Devices Agency (PMDA), Japan Agency for Medical Research and Development (AMED), and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), as well as the Global Fund, Gavi, WHO, UNICEF, UNDP, and others.
GHIT's prioritization of access and delivery in its investment decision-making, coupled with Japan's priority on universal health coverage, will continue to foster partnerships committed to meeting critical unmet needs in global health. "GHIT is a really important innovation in and of itself," said Mark Dybul, former Executive Director of the Global Fund. "It is a great example of a public-private partnership that was created to foster R&D in a way that advances the goals of achieving universal health coverage and human security, which are cornerstone policies of Japan's health and foreign policies."
Because these products are extraordinarily expensive and high-risk to develop and low-middle income countries are unable to pay for them, there is little financial incentive for for-profit companies to invest limited R&D resources into malaria, tuberculosis, and NTDs. Yet the full engagement of the private sector is critical to developing these tools and bringing them to market. GHIT's model is a solution to the market failure and enables the private sector to contribute to global health financially and by bringing their pharmaceutical expertise and capabilities to the R&D table to create affordable and accessible new products.
"Over 700 million people live in absolute poverty, and 14 percent of children worldwide are not getting basic vaccines," said Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. Affordability and access of vaccines are key to filling these gaps. "GHIT's investment in the development of needed vaccines—and to making affordability and access a priority throughout the R&D process—is critical."
Throughout its first phase, GHIT has been instrumental in helping to speed the discovery and development of a significant number of innovative technologies in record time.
"With this replenishment of GHIT, Japan is further cementing its legacy as a leader in global health innovation," said Professor Kiyoshi Kurokawa, Chair of the GHIT Fund Board of Directors. "The success of GHIT is catalyzing Japan's engagement with other new initiatives and transforming global health partnerships. This is good for Japan and for the world."
* All amounts listed at the exchange rate of USD1 = JPY100.
Quotes from GHIT Funding Partners
Koichi Aiboshi, Director-General for Global Issues, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said: "Japan has a long history in global health. In 2000, we promoted the inclusion of infectious diseases to the G8 agenda, and during the most recent summit, the first G7 summit after the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), global health was highlighted. I am glad that the GHIT was introduced in the Summit outcome document as a well-coordinated Public-Private Partnership for R&D. Our investment in GHIT, as well as other partnerships, is a clear signal that Japan has a sustained commitment to global health."
Naoko Yamamoto, Assistant Minister for Global Health, Minister's Secretariat, Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, said: "By leveraging GHIT's new platform, we have been able to demonstrate at home and abroad that Japanese pharmaceutical companies, research organizations, and universities possess technologies and capabilities which can not only contribute to the nation's health, but to global health as well. Based on these successful experiences, I am hoping that many companies and research organizations in Japan become motivated to help address the challenges of global health, and this will lead to further advancing Japan's global health R&D."
Trevor Mundel, President, Global Health, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, said: "Japan is a leader in global health, and GHIT is a primary example of Japan's commitment to transforming the global health landscape with a partnership that brings together the unique resources of governments, pharmaceutical companies, and the philanthropic sector to develop products that can turn the tide against the greatest burdens of disease in low- and middle-income countries."
Stephen Caddick, Director, Innovations Division, Wellcome Trust, said: "Japan has an outstanding science base and an exceptional culture of innovation, which, along with its excellent pharmaceutical industry, makes it ideal for the rapid advancement of new ways to diagnose and treat disease. We're proud to support GHIT and to work with the partners to develop drugs, vaccines, and diagnostics as quickly as possible and to put them in the hands of the billions of people around the world who need them most."
Yoshihiko Hatanaka, Representative Director, President and CEO, Astellas Pharma Inc., said: "GHIT catalyzed a mindset shift for the Japanese pharmaceutical industry vis-à-vis solving global health issues. More specifically, it created a mechanism for Japanese pharmaceutical companies to take leadership roles in solving global health issues by combining their R&D expertise and capabilities in cooperation with those of governments, international organizations and nonprofits."
Osamu Nagayama, Representative Director, Chairman and CEO, Chugai Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd., said: "In order for the global society to develop further, the realization of global health becomes increasingly important. GHIT Fund is the world's first public-private partnership which involves governments, private companies and foundations. The fund specializes in product development aiming for global health and engages in the critical mission. Chugai will contribute to the benefit for the medical community and human health around the world with its proprietary antibody engineering technologies and its compound library which is useful for drug discovery."
George Nakayama, Representative Director, Chairman and CEO, Daiichi Sankyo Company, Limited, said: "GHIT helps build bridges between our business and corporate social responsibility. We have significant resources to bring to bear on global health, including technologies, insights and experiences gained through the process of product development. It means a great deal to our company if we can leverage our technologies for global health and help develop and deliver products to patients in need."
Haruo Naito, Representative Corporate Officer and CEO, Eisai Co., Ltd., said: "Our mission as a pharmaceutical company is to create new medicines and to deliver those medicines to all the people who need them. In order to eliminate neglected tropical diseases, malaria, and tuberculosis, which are a source of suffering to the people in developing countries, it is essential to both accelerate the development of new medicines and to improve access through partnerships, and we applaud the GHIT Fund's new endeavors on this front. Eisai is proactively engaged in contributing to global health, which we consider to be a long-term investment in creating a healthy and prosperous middle-income class."
Isao Teshirogi, President and CEO, Shionogi & Co., Ltd., said: "Japanese pharmaceutical companies have always played a major role as innovators and producers of lifesaving medicines, vaccines and diagnostics. We can play a stronger role in seriously expanding the supply and accessibility of these medicines and improve overall health in poor countries."
Christophe Weber, Representative Director, President and CEO, Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Limited, said: "GHIT is an innovative model for creating medicines and vaccines against diseases for which there is a lack of R&D funding, and I think it has been very successful. Investing in it and contributing to its work makes sense for Takeda not only because of our global health interests, but also because of the strong capabilities in Japan that can help make GHIT successful."
Magdy Martínez-Solimán, Assistant Secretary-General, Assistant Administrator and Director, Bureau for Policy and Programme Support, United Nations Development Programme, said: "UNDP is proud to partner with Japan and GHIT, including through its Access and Delivery Partnership, which helps low- and middle-income countries address critical bottlenecks within their health systems so that GHIT-funded innovations can reach more people, faster."
Shigetaka Komori, Chairman and CEO, FUJIFILM Corporation, said: "Partnering with the GHIT Fund has great significance for the delivery of solutions in developing countries where many unsolved infectious diseases exist. By utilizing its accumulated technologies, Fujifilm will create innovation in fields such as in-vitro diagnosis and therapeutic medications, and contribute to enhancing the quality of healthcare in developing countries."
Tatsuo Higuchi, President and Representative Director, Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd., said: "Our multi-decade commitment to develop new treatments for tuberculosis resulted in the creation of delamanid, one of the first new anti-multidrug resistant pulmonary tuberculosis agents in almost half a century. Our partnership with the GHIT Fund enables us to further contribute to new drug development for the health of people across the world."
Hisashi Ietsugu, Chairman and CEO, Sysmex Corporation, said: "We look forward to cooperating with the GHIT Fund to strengthen R&D capability for diagnostics against infectious diseases prevalent in developing countries. Through collaboration with the GHIT Fund, we will accelerate the creation of diagnostic technologies with advanced medical value for people suffering from infectious diseases."
Kihito Takahashi, Vice President and Senior Managing Director, Development and Medical Affairs Division, GlaxoSmithKline K.K., said: "As a science-led global healthcare company, we are committed to taking on some of the world's biggest healthcare challenges. GHIT Fund is contributing to accelerating the development of innovative medicines and vaccines to save the patients who are suffering from neglected diseases in developing countries. We are proud of being a member of GHIT Fund and of supporting the same mission to overcome global healthcare challenges by harnessing the partnership."
Paul Stoffels, Chief Scientific Officer, Johnson & Johnson, said: "We, at Johnson & Johnson, know that good health drives human progress. However there remain critical public health challenges such as HIV and tuberculosis, which limit people's potential and could be addressed through innovation and collaboration. We are therefore proud to continue supporting GHIT's work to help develop innovative health solutions for people facing significant public health challenges."
Nobuo Hanai, President and CEO, Kyowa Hakko Kirin Co., Ltd., said: "We share GHIT's sense of urgency about the need to deliver new tools to those suffering from diseases with no adequate treatments. Partnering with GHIT, which focuses on global partnerships, will advance the "CSV* management" based on Our Unique Business Structure."
(CSV stands for "Creating Shared Value" and refers to realizing improved corporate value through both the creation of social value and the creation of economic value by addressing social issues.)
Belén Garijo, Member of the Executive Board & CEO Healthcare, Merck KGaA, said: "We at Merck are strongly committed to the fight against schistosomiasis in Africa and just celebrated 10 years of our Praziquantel Donation Program. Our leadership on the Pediatric Praziquantel Consortium, which is partially partnered by GHIT, makes me confident that this engagement with GHIT is bringing us ever closer to a potential treatment solution for the most vulnerable patients—very young children."
Masayuki Mitsuka, President & Representative Director, Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma Corporation, said: "We are honored to make our chemical compound library available to global health R&D through GHIT. Our ongoing partnership between PDPs and GHIT will move the dial on battling drug-resistance and creating new treatments for the infectious diseases that burden the developing world."
Masayo Tada, Representative Director, President and CEO, Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma Co., Ltd., said: "We are dedicated to creating innovative and effective pharmaceutical products for people not only in Japan but also around the world. Through our participation in GHIT Fund, we are seeking to explore how we can utilize our innovative drug discovery technologies for neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), malaria, and other disease fields in which there are significant unmet medical needs, thereby aiming to enhance Access to Health."
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