GSK Joins UK–South African Effort to Target Non-communicable Diseases

September 18, 2014
The Pharm Exec staff
Pharmaceutical Executive

After almost two years of discussion and analysis, the Food and Drug Administration is finalizing a proposal for collecting data from manufacturers to help measure the performance of manufacturing operations and the quality of resulting drugs and biologics

GSK will weigh in on non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in Africa with a £1m contribution and a commitment of internal R&D expertise supporting researchers from South African institutions, the company announced this month.

The UK and South African Medical Research Councils have pledged £2.5m and £1.5m, respectively.

The funding, announced by the UK Foreign Office Minister responsible for Africa, James Duddridge, and South Africa’s Minister for Science and Technology, Naledi Pandor, at an event in Cape Town, South Africa, is part of a broader collaboration to support South African researchers and is aligned with the objectives of GSK’s Africa NCD Open Lab.

With its £1m pledge, GSK also confirmed additional £4m in support of successful proposals for NCD in other sub-Saharan African countries. The company plans to launch a call for proposals seeking interest from researchers in South Africa and other sub-Saharan nations in 2014 to begin in Q215.

In March, GSK announced a series of investments that could reach £130m in Africa over the next five years addressing health needs and supporting long-term economic growth.

Cancer, diabetes and other NCDs are an increasing problem in Africa, and the Africa NCD Open Lab hopes to attack these threats by creating a research network with GSK scientists collaborating with researchers across Africa on epidemiological, genetic and interventional research, from its hub at GSK’s Stevenage R&D facility in the UK, according to GSK’s September press release.

The Africa NCD Open lab follows on GSKs Tres Cantos, Spain Open Lab, which it established in 2010 to give independent researchers access to GSK facilities, resources and knowledge for projects in various developing world diseased like malaria and tuberculosis.

Increasing NCDs in Africa, coinciding with the region’s growing middle class is the silver lining for profitable and scalable health care investment, according to Steven Adjei in an interview with Pharm Exec. But pharma is still tasked with communicable diseases plaguing the continent.

GSK filed for regulatory approval of its malaria vaccine candidate, RTS,S to the EMA, on  July 24. The firm hopes the vaccine can be available next year, and GSK has already committed to make it available at a not-for-profit price, says the company.

GSK is co-developing an Ebola vaccine with the US National Institute of Health. On August 28, GSK announced that an international consortium has been formed to accelerate the vaccine’s development.