BIO Forum: How Biotechnology Can Address Global Health and Neglected Diseases of the Developing World

WASHINGTON, D.C. (October 10, 2002) – The Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), in conjunction with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, will host the Partnering for Global Health Forum 2002, Dec. 3-5, in Washington, D.C. This event will explore how the biotech industry can partner with public and private organizations to improve global health through the discovery of innovative vaccines, diagnostics and treatments for neglected diseases of the developing world.

According to the Global Forum for Health Research and the Institute for Global Health, of more than $70 billion spent on health research and development every year, only an estimated 10 percent is used for research into 90 percent of the world’s health problems.

“BIO’s Global Health Forum will initiate a discussion with potential funders and the government about how the biotech industry can help address these disparities by improving the way we diagnose, prevent and treat some of the world’s most intractable diseases including AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria,” said BIO President Carl B. Feldbaum. “Biotech companies can use tools such as genomics, proteomics, recombinant DNA, and innovative drug delivery technologies to tackle these and other infectious diseases.”

In June of this year, Feldbaum addressed thousands of biotech executives at
BIO’s annual convention in Toronto about "Biotechnology's Foreign Policy," outlining the industry's role in global health as well as other international issues. During his remarks, Feldbaum said, “Biotech R&D can do its part in the developing world by producing vaccines that don't require refrigeration and are nasally or orally delivered. That investment in prevention can be made alongside continuing investment in diseases that afflict wealthy societies, especially as incomes rise and lifespans lengthen.”

According to a new study by the University of Toronto’s Joint Centre for
Bioethics, biotechnology research and development could lead to dozens of important health innovations for the developing world, including rapid diagnostics, new vaccines, and alternatives to injections.

“Too many of the world's deadliest diseases, that impact the most vulnerable
populations, have been overlooked for funding and research,” said Richard Klausner, M.D., executive director of the Global Health Program at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “The Partnering for Global Health Forum is a much-needed step forward. World experts from the public and private sector will focus their attention on neglected diseases, looking for new ways to partner and save lives."

The conference will be held at the Omni Shoreham Hotel and will include three key components: expert panels, company and funder presentations, and partnering meetings. Expert panels will cover topics including conducting clinical trials in developing countries, and exploring new financing mechanisms to stimulate research and development. Biotech companies will present critical products and technologies to address neglected diseases, and public and private organizations will describe potential funding available for biotech companies. The partnering portion of the forum will consist of pre-scheduled meetings between biotech companies and potential partners or funders.

The Partnering for Global Health Forum will also include five plenary sessions featuring top global health experts. Confirmed speakers include Dr. Klausner, Richard Feachem, and Laurie Garrett. Feachem is executive director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and has more than 30 years of experience in international health. Garrett is a science and health writer at Newsday; winner of the Pulitzer, Polk, and Peabody Prizes; and author of The Coming Plague and Betrayal of Trust: The Collapse of Global Public Health. Garrett will speak Dec. 4 on the state of public health in the developing world and the threat of infectious diseases. Additional plenary speakers will be announced shortly.

For more information on BIO’s Partnering for Global Health Forum, please visit the Web site at Press registration is now available and is complimentary for credentialed members of the news media. Press releases, conference updates and registration information are posted in the “Media” section of the conference Web site.

BIO represents more than 1,000 biotechnology companies, academic institutions, state biotechnology centers and related organizations in all 50 U.S. states and 33 other nations. BIO members are involved in the research and development of health-care, agricultural, industrial and environmental biotechnology products.

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