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International Day of Charity

September 8, 2015
While most of us are well-aware of the Labor Day holiday we celebrated this weekend, Saturday also marked a newer, less well known observance: the International Day of Charity, observed annually on September 5. The annual observance was declared in 2012 by the United Nations, “In recognition of the role of charity in alleviating humanitarian crises and human ‎suffering within and among nations…”

Biopharmaceutical companies are committed to improving health care systems and access to medicines, particularly in the developing world. They do this by:

  • Providing donated or discounted medicines to patients in need

  • Providing health care assistance during disasters (Healthcare Ready)

  • Researching and developing new medicines, including for neglected tropical diseases (often facilitated by the WIPO Re:Search Consortium)

  • Improving health care delivery systems

A 2013 White Paper by the Hudson Institute attempted to quantify the contributions of the biopharmaceutical industry towards the UN’s Millennium Development Goals. The authors found an estimated total of over $94.8 billion in contributions by 29 different companies during the period from 2000-2011. That includes product donations, cash contributions, and in-kind donations including voluntary license transfers, royalty-free license transfers, providing medical compounds for libraries, clinical trials for neglected diseases and institutional capacity building.

In the area of neglected diseases, the importance of cross-sector collaborations in search of solutions is increasingly recognized. This lead to the establishment in 2011 of the WIPO Re:Search Consortium by the World Intellectual Property Organization in collaboration with BIO Ventures for Global Health (BVGH) and with the active participation of leading pharmaceutical companies and other private and public sector research organizations. The goal of WIPO is to allow “organizations to share their intellectual property, compounds, expertise, facilities and know-how royalty-free with qualified researchers worldwide working on new solutions for NTDs, malaria and tuberculosis.” Those diseases affect more than one billion people globally.

At the end of 2014, 82 different collaborations between members were in place, 38 of which were established that year. The below chart illustrates the global reach of these agreements as well as the specific disease areas involved:

BIO Ventures for Global Health

In the coming weeks we’ll be looking at some of the successes produced by WIPO collaborations thus far. To learn more, please visit WIPO Re:Search online.