Released in advance of the 9th IAS Conference on HIV Science convening next week in Paris, our 2017 report continues to demonstrate the significant yields of drugs and biologics research and the advancement of breakthrough technologies that aim to detect, prevent, treat or cure HIV, tuberculosis (TB) and hepatitis C virus (HCV).
This year’s Pipeline Report also acknowledges the critical challenges ahead, notably unstable political environments that threaten scientific progress and the translation of research into health and survival for people around the world.
“The tremendous gains of the past three decades and our ability to ensure that all those who can benefit receive the prevention, treatment, support, information, and care that they need are under threat by the retrenchment and austerity imposed by Western governments on their own people and the flatlining of investment in research and global HIV and TB prevention and treatment programs,” notes Mark Harrington, Executive Director of TAG, in the report’s executive summary.
Report authors note specific failures in implementing new tools and therapies across HIV, TB, and HCV. “Even the promise of existing breakthrough technologies such as the TB LAM test – the only true point-of-care diagnostic test with a proven mortality benefit for people living with HIV and TB with low CD4 counts suffers because of stagnant uptake and implementation by national TB programs” writes Erica Lessem, Director of TAG’s TB/HIV Project.
The development of direct acting antivirals (DAAs) associated with astonishing HCV cure rates is another monumental scientific achievement being overshadowed by prohibitive costs resulting in global access challenges. “In the United States, an exploding opioid epidemic threatens to increase incidence of HCV among young people – and yet we are still facing funding threats to substance abuse and treatment programs,” says Annette Gaudino, Co-director of the HCV Project at TAG. She adds, “this includes threats to payers, both public and private, if the Senate and Congress pass their health care bills, which really expropriate resources from the poor and sick to the rich, and keep breakthrough cures out of reach. Additionally, interest in continued R&D spending for more cures that could be lower cost options, is waning”
Emerging options for the prevention and treatment of HIV are also in grave danger of remaining out of reach for those who need them most, in large part due to payers being forced to reckon with drug pricing beyond what domestic and global markets can reasonably bear. “The HIV pipelines are robust with potentially safe and efficacious treatment and prevention candidates for those who need them most,” says Tim Horn, Deputy Executive Director of HIV and HCV Programs. “We’re finally seeing the development of regimens poised to reverse egregious pricing trends, but the challenges of affordable access aren’t for the pharmaceutical industry to solve alone.”
In the midst of our 25th Anniversary, TAG is alarmed that the progress we’ve made in ensuring robust pipelines for HIV, TB, and HCV faces unprecedented threats. We publish the Pipeline Report as an informational tool for activists who are working to ensure access to the best science and the scale up of affordable treatment and prevention options.
At TAG, we firmly believe we can end these three epidemics. That requires a commitment to research and the implementation of evidence-based tools to guarantee that people in need are able to access quality health care. With the 2017 Pipeline Report, we remain committed to the production and dissemination of research data and analysis to help shape evidence-based policy, to strengthen our own advocacy work, and to support our domestic and global partners in the fight.