Is the world ready for the next global disease epidemic?

21 December 2017 (Last Updated December 21st, 2017 14:38)

Ease and frequency of international travel have made the world one big contagion hub. Global epidemics are a very real threat and with that comes the need to anticipate and prepare for the next major disease outbreak.

Ease and frequency of international travel have made the world one big contagion hub. Global epidemics are a very real threat and with that comes the need to anticipate and prepare for the next major disease outbreak.

Figure one shows the top 10 infectious disease indications for the past 5 years by deal count. Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) drugs had the highest number of deals, however, Urinary Tract Infections (UTI) deals accumulated the highest deal value. This would suggest that, for the past 5 years, these disease areas have had the most funding and research compared to the other top infectious diseases. This is hardly surprising as they are among the most common infectious diseases. However, tuberculosis (TB) is the number one cause of death for infectious diseases (1,2) but only just makes it into the top 10 indications by deal count and has a comparably low total deal value. This may be due to having a lower prevalence in the West, and therefore, less incentivized funding. Seven countries make up more than two thirds of the total number of people with TB worldwide: India, Indonesia, China, Philippines, Pakistan, Nigeria, and South Africa (3). However, this may be an oversimplification of the data, since TB is the leading killer of HIV infected patients (3,4) and HIV has the highest number of pharma deals for the past five years.

The Ebolavirus also had a high deal activity for the past 5 years. This is likely due to the 2014 Ebolavirus outbreak. Figure two shows the total number of deals and deal values for Ebola as a breakdown by year.

Interestingly the highest total deal value was in 2013, the year before Ebolavirus outbreak in West Africa (5). This shows there was heightened activity for mitigating Ebola before it reached its highest prevalence in 2014 (5). It is pre-emptive research and collaboration such as this that pharmaceutical companies and governments will need to maintain to ensure future infectious disease outbreaks do not become global epidemics.

Sources

  1. Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Infectious Disease. Accessed 20th Dec 2017. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/infectious-disease.htm
  2. World Health Organization (WHO). Top 10 Causes of Death. Accessed 20th Dec 2017. http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs310/en/
  3. World Health Organization (WHO). Tuberculosis. Accessed 20th Dec 2017. http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs104/en/
  4. Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Tuberculosis. Accessed 20th Dec 2017. https://www.cdc.gov/tb/statistics/default.htm
  5. World Health Organization (WHO). Ebola Virus Disease. Accessed 20th Dec 2017. http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs103/en/