Ideas to Action:

Independent research for global prosperity

CGD in the News

November 1, 2011

Regional, Streamlined Approaches Urged to Realize Neglected Disease Pipeline (PharmaTimes)

CGD's new clinical trials report was featured in a PharmaTimes article.

From the Article

Regional pathways for the regulation and ethical review of clinical trials, coupled with new processes for the design and conduct of faster, cheaper and more effective studies, are imperative if the growing pipeline of drugs and vaccines for neglected diseases is to deliver viable products to patients in need, a new report insists.

According to the report from the US-based Center for Global Development (CGD), the last decade has seen “tremendous” progress in developing products for the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of neglected diseases, bolstered by product development partnerships and research funding from the public and private sector.

There are now nearly 90 new products in the pipeline for conditions such as malaria and tuberculosis, with many of them approaching clinical trials, the CGD says.

Yet funding for global health is contracting while clinical trial costs can run to US$30,000 per patient, it warns. It can take “billions of dollars” to develop a new medicine and bring it to market in impoverished countries, finds the report on Safer, Faster, Cheaper: Improving Clinical Trials and Regulatory Pathways to Fight Neglected Diseases.

Read it here.

May 25, 2011

Developing-World Lung Cancer: Made in the USA (The Atlantic)

Resident fellow Thomas Bollyky's piece in The Atlantic on international tobacco control.

From the Article

We want to stop American kids from smoking—so why don't we seem to care as much about Asian or African kids?

It was 1997 when Senator John McCain asked that question on the floor of the Senate about U.S. trade policy on tobacco. Nearly 15 years later, that question is still being asked. Thankfully, new trade talks on tobacco—the first launched by the Obama administration—may provide an answer, finally bridging the gap between our domestic and international policies.

For most of the eighties and nineties, domestic and international policies on tobacco diverged. At home, innovative anti-smoking campaigns, higher excise taxes, and civil and criminal lawsuits cut 1965 smoking rates in half for American adults. Abroad, U.S. trade officials pressured emerging Asian economies to open their markets to imported cigarettes. The entry of multinational tobacco companies sharply increased tobacco use in these countries, which were unprepared for intensive marketing, particularly to women and youth.

These companies now employ the same tactics in developing countries—including cartoon characters, billboards, and music sponsorships—that are prohibited in the United States.In 2001, President Clinton issued an executive order barring U.S. government agencies from promoting the sale or export of tobacco or tobacco products abroad. That order remains, but so does the gulf between domestic and international tobacco policy. While we crack down domestically with higher taxes and graphic warning labels, nearly every trade and investment agreement that the U.S. has negotiated over the last decade reduces tobacco tariffs and helps protect tobacco investments overseas.

Trade liberalization is driving up tobacco use in poor countries. Tariff reductions lower the price of imported cigarettes in developing nations that lack the strong taxation systems to compensate. Meanwhile, cigarette companies use investments in local tobacco production and so-called "corporate social responsibility" programs to win government allies and future customers, and they use dispute resolution, which is built in to trade and investment agreements, to block tobacco labeling and advertising restrictions. These companies now employ the same tactics in developing countries—including cartoon characters, billboards, and music sponsorships—that are prohibited in the United States. Young women, who have historically smoked less than men in most parts of the developing world, are a major target.

Read it Here.

January 19, 2011

Smoke and Mirrors (Foreign Policy)

Foreign Policy published visiting fellow Tom Bollyky's article on the need for the the United States to lead on global tobacco regulation.

From the Article:

If it seems fewer people are smoking in the United States, that's because it's true. Since 1965, the proportion of U.S. adults who smoke has plummeted from 42 percent to 19 percent as a result of higher excise taxes, civil and criminal litigation, and tobacco-control programs in U.S. cities and states.

But as tobacco use declines in the United States, it is on the rise in low- and middle-income countries, spurred by higher incomes, trade liberalization, and intensive industry marketing. There are 1.2 billion smokers in the world, roughly one-third of the world's adult population. Seven-hundred million children -- approximately 40 percent of the world's youth population -- are exposed to second hand tobacco smoke at home. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), tobacco use already kills more people annually than HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis combined. Unless urgent action is taken, it is expected to kill hundreds of millions more in the coming decades, mostly in developing countries. The World Economic Forum's 2010 global risk report ranked non-communicable diseases, for which tobacco use is a leading risk factor, as a greater threat to global economic development than fiscal crises, natural disasters, transnational crime and corruption, and infectious disease. This week marks 10 years since President Bill Clinton signed an executive order, which remains in effect, requiring U.S. agencies to take "strong action to address the potential global epidemic of diseases caused by tobacco use." While the intervening decade has seen significant efforts to reduce smoking domestically, Washington continues to do too little to address the expanding tobacco use in developing countries and its devastating consequences.

At home, the U.S. government is cracking down on tobacco. In 2009, President Barack Obama signed a law that gave the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) sweeping new powers to regulate tobacco products. Graphic images of diseased lungs and deceased smokers will soon adorn cigarette packs sold in the United States. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that these new regulations will reduce U.S. youth smoking by another 11 percent over the next decade.

Abroad, however, U.S. engagement on tobacco control is minimal. The United States has yet to join the 171 countries that have ratified the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, a binding, comprehensive treaty designed to reduce tobacco supply and demand worldwide. Less than $7 million of the more than $8 billion global health budget in 2009 was dedicated to international tobacco control. Nearly every trade and investment agreement that the United States has negotiated over the last decade reduces tobacco tariffs and improves the protection of tobacco-related investments overseas. The same new law that restricts cigarette marketing and labeling in the United States specifically excludes cigarettes destined for sale or distribution abroad.

Read the Article.

September 9, 2010

USAID Plans to Emphasize Science, Technology (Energy and Environment News)

The Energy and Environment News quotes visiting fellow Tom Bollyky on USAID's renewed focus on new technologies.

From the article:

While some welcome USAID taking this approach, others are wary of the agency spending too much on research and getting swept away by high-tech gadgets.

"I think there's risk here of solutions, as opposed to problems, driving approaches," said Tom Bollyky, a visiting fellow at the Center for Global Development. "[There's] a risk that you'll go towards the sexy solution as opposed to the low-cost, tried-and-true solution for addressing a development issue."

Instead of spending millions of dollars on clinical trials itself, the government would be more effective by creating enabling environments that promote private-sector innovation, Bollyky said.

Read the article.