Government funding for TB research outstripped by philanthropic grants

3 December 2009 -- Cancun, Mexico -- A new report, released today shows that lack of funding is the main obstacle to progress on developing a highly sensitive quick blood or urine test for active TB disease, new drugs and an effective vaccine. The 2009 Report on Tuberculosis Research Funding Trends 2005-2008, produced by the Treatment Action Group (TAG), an HIV and TB advocacy think tank, and the Stop TB Partnership, finds that research funding for tuberculosis increased just 7% between 2007 and 2008.

The report makes note of an unexpected trend. In 2008, for the first time since TAG began reporting on TB research funding, philanthropic grants outstripped government funding for TB research. A single foundation--the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation--donated more funds for TB research in 2008 than all public agencies combined, including the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health, whose overall research funding has flattened.

Global investment in TB research and development has decelerated rather than growing in the three years since The Global Plan to Stop TB: 2006-2015, was issued. Between 2006 and 2007 investment rose by US$56 million--to a total $474 million. However between 2007 and 2008 investment rose by just $36 million, to $510 million.

Scientists at the pinnacle of the research world acknowledge publicly that TB has been neglected. In a commentary on

Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, wrote: "It's time to bring TB research into the 21st century. For the past 60 years we have treated tuberculosis patients with essentially the same therapeutic regimens. The only licensed vaccine against TB, the BCG vaccine, is more than 100 years old and does not prevent adult pulmonary (lung) TB, the most common and infectious form of the disease. Diagnostics for TB are antiquated, non-standardized, and imprecise... Where is the outrage over such meager progress"

Read the press release

Read the report