The BMJ has just published an editorial that I wrote with Peter Hotez, Editor in Chief of PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases. The journal has created a toll-free link that I am allowed to post on my own or my employer's website, so PLoS readers can access it without charge.
Our editorial discusses the "silent revolution" in the attention being paid to the neglected tropical diseases, including the rise of public private partnerships dedicated to NTD drug development and the renewed interest from the donor community. We conclude our piece by letting BMJ readers know about the October launch of PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases:
"One problem facing the community working on controlling neglected tropical diseases is the lack of communication between the various players—researchers, policymakers, clinicians, public-private partnerships, donors, and patient advocacy groups. Finally, we have an online tool for such communication—the world's first journal specifically devoted to these diseases. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has awarded the Public Library of Science a grant of $1.1m to launch in October 2007 PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases (www.plosntds.org), an open access, non-profit journal. One unusual feature of the journal is that, unlike other tropical medicine journals, 40% of the editors who handle peer review are from countries where the neglected tropical diseases are endemic."
Martin Carroll and Edwin Borman, who led the report, in a letter to the BMJ entitled ‘Collaboration is key to reversing neglect for tropical diseases’ wrote:
"We share Yamey and Hotez's view that there is much cause for optimism in the arena of drug development for neglected diseases. Yet, in spite of the resurgence led by product development partnerships (PDPs), progress remains hampered by a funding shortfall. Moran's research cited the often heterogeneous nature of (PDPs) as a possible factor in government reluctance to commit funding. Earlier this year, the BMA launched Neglected diseases: doctors can make a difference, a condensed version of Moran's research, aimed at national medical associations (NMAs). We hope that NMAs and their members will use the evidence within it to urge Ministers of Finance to look again at PDPs and realise that they are a low-risk investment, the return on which could be the reversal of decades of neglect and the saving of many millions of lives.
As Yamey and Hotez point out, other innovative models are emerging to support and enhance the work of PDPs. The BMA welcomes this but also has some concerns: the proliferation of activity, with several pharmaceutical companies focused on the same disease group, may result in duplication and the wasting of precious resources. We advocate more collaboration, both within and between the research and funding sectors, to optimise drug discovery, clinical trials and funding flows.
We hope that PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases will flourish as a forum for the development of progressive approaches to diseases which for too long have been neglected."