DNDi or Drugs for Neglected Disease Initiative celebrates its 15th birthday this year. This initiative is one of the unique examples of non-for-profit alternative models for research and development (R&D) of a new drugs. This initiative works to ensure that populations that are left behind will have access to live-saving medications.

Its story started in 2003 after Medicines Sans Frontiers (MSF) used part of their Nobel Peace Prize award to explore alternatives model to develop new drugs. At that point out of 1,393 new drugs that were issued on a market worldwide, only 1% were for neglected diseases even though they represented 12% of the global disease burden. One of the main reasons for this was that most of investments into R&D of the new drugs were and still are mostly driven by market and income rather than patients’ needs. 

When DNDi was founded, it met with a lot of doubts and scepticism whether such a not-for-profit model can function and bring something to patients. And now, 15 years later the model has proven to be a success: keeping patients in mind, focusing on affordable access with 8 treatments delivered, including the first oral treatment for sleeping sickness, where the previous treatment option was very toxic and difficult to administerperform. 7-8 additional treatments are in plan for 2020-2023. DNDi screened over 4 millions of compounds and have more than 20 new chemical developments, the number of which are at advanced stage of clinical developments.

Besides focusing only on neglected diseases, DNDi broaden their portfolio by including also disease areas with active research but where high prices limit access for all. For example, they have been actively involved in the development of an improved scheme of paediatric HIV treatment, and meanwhile support increased access to an interim solution. With regards, to hepatitis C, DNDi collaborates with countries, like Malaysia to find more affordable treatment regimens and ensure local production, as well as scale-up testing and access to treatment.

DNDi build their work according to the following principles:

  • DNDi is needs-driven. All research and innovation are driven by needs of the patients and therapeutic impact rather than the financial market.
  • DNDi is independent. No single donor can fund more than 25% of the overall budget.
  • DNDi is collaborative, open and transparent. They work with more than 180 partners in more than 40 countries which include pharmaceutical companies, academia, ministries, NGOs etc.  DNDi ensure transparent work among and with partners.
  • DNDI is globally networked, facilitates exchanges and collaboration between different partners, countries and networks.
  • DNDi is access-oriented, ensuring that treatment is affordable, available, accessible and acceptable to the communities in need
  • DNDI is transformative by promoting and discovering new and innovative approaches to serve the communities.

Learn more about the initiative here