TB Isn’t Going Away, and Pharma Isn’t Ignoring It

6/18/09

Many people thought tuberculosis had gone away. Unfortunately, it has not. Indeed, it is coming back strongly, and in a multidrug resistant form. This has occurred at a time of a vacuum in drug discovery and development for tuberculosis.

Fortunately, government institutions like the National Institutes of Health, non-governmental agencies like the Seattle Biomedical Research Institute, PATH, and even pharmaceutical companies are investing in tuberculosis research.

Interestingly, pharmaceutical companies are doing this for the public good, as it is unlikely that this research could ever be turned into a profitable business for them. Nonprofit organizations like the Global Alliance for TB Drug Development are clinically testing new and more convenient treatments for patients.

Encouragingly, at the Pacific Health Summit, the Global Alliance and Johnson & Johnson’s Tibotec subsidiary announced a novel partnership devoted to the development of an innovative new drug for both drug-sensitive and drug-resistant TB [See Xconomy's earlier coverage].

Much of this work in research and development is being shepherded and supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Scientists follow the money. If the money flows in to support TB, so too will high-quality scientists.

Bruce Carter is the chairman of Seattle-based ZymoGenetics, and the chairman of the Global Alliance for TB Drug Development (TB Alliance). Follow @

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