Pharmaceutical companies have traditionally developed drugs and vaccines to treat the world’s illnesses. As the biotech industry has evolved, the contributions from biotech have greatly contributed to the development of new medicines and new methods for making them. Governmental and university research have also played important roles in the development of new medicines and diagnostics. In the past ten years, a new kind of organization – the PDP – has become a strong partner to these industries, particularly as related to developing medicines for neglected diseases.
PDP stands for Product Development Partnership. PDPs are a new kind of not-for-profit organization; they encourage the development of therapeutic, diagnostic and preventative healthcare products with a particular focus on neglected diseases – those diseases that disproportionately affect the developing world. By definition, PDPs exist to develop technology for indications or applications that are not being commercialized by more traditional commercial entities due to the lack of profit and return on investment.
The remit of the PDPs is to develop, or have developed (through the coordination of outsourcing activities), therapeutics, diagnostics and preventive healthcare products where such products are not developed by the pharmaceutical industry due to lack of commercial, for-profit market. In general, PDPs contribute to the development of these products by organizing and managing a virtual R&D organization capable of identifying, structuring, and outsourcing tasks to third parties. PDPs find partners to finalize the development of these technologies so that low-cost therapies, diagnostics and preventatives can be made generally available. PDPs fund research activities from basic to applied research, throughout the entire drug development process, up to registration and post-marketing surveillance. The pooling of resources and expertise from existing organizations (academia, private sector, governments, NGOs) through partnership agreements is key for success.