Case Study: Collaboration

GHIT Fund (Global Health Innovative Technology Fund), Astellas Pharma Inc.

Objectives

This new Japanese-led initiative aims to advance the development of new health technologies, such as drugs, vaccines, and diagnostics, for the developing world. The GHIT Fund was established by three key partners: the government of Japan, a consortium of five leading Japanese pharmaceutical companies (Astellas Pharma Inc., Daiichi Sankyo Co. Ltd., Eisai Co. Ltd., Shionogi & Co. Ltd., and Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd.), and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Its mission is to facilitate international partnerships that enable Japanese technology, innovations, and insights to play a more direct role in reducing disparities in health between the rich and the poor of the world.

Lessons Learned?

As a first product development fund of its kind in Japan, GHIT Fund has facilitated research and development for neglected diseases, such as malaria, tuberculosis (TB), and NTDs. The combination of Japan’s government and its drug industry—the third largest in the world—brings Japan’s technology, innovation, and insights to the development of drugs, vaccines, and diagnostics for the developing world.

Astellas anticipates that awareness of its commitment to the NTD drug development will increase. For example, it has received more and more collaborative research proposals from third parties.

Results to Date?

GHIT Fund:

  • Awarded grants totaling US$5.7 million to six global partnerships developing innovative drugs and vaccines against malaria, TB, and Chagas disease in the first round of requests for proposals (RFPs) in November 2013.
  • Awarded grants totaling US$12 million for TB and NTDs to four innovative projects in the second round of RFPs in March 2014.

Astellas:

  • Contributed to the establishment of the GHIT Fund in collaboration with four other Japanese pharmaceutical companies, two Japanese ministries, and the Gates Foundation.
  • Serves as a member of council, whose functions include the appointment and dismissal of members of the council and board of directors, approval of financial statements, advocacy for the GHIT Fund, etc.
  • Received a US$1.86 million grant to develop and register a new pediatric formulation of the gold standard treatment drug praziquantel to combat schistosomiasis.

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