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New report on global HIV treatment research and development investments in 2010 and 2011


March 6, 2013

Public-sector funding streams are flatlining, jeopardizing scientific innovation

New York, NY – Today, Treatment Action Group (TAG) released its latest report, Funding Scientific Innovation: Global Investments in HIV Treatment Research and Development in 2010 and 2011. For this report, TAG submitted surveys to 171 public, private, and philanthropic funders from around the world; of these 41 responded to TAG, reporting investments of US$2.6 billion in HIV treatment research and development (R&D) in 2011. The TAG report documents an 11.8% increase in funding from the baseline year of 2009, when 46 global funders were surveyed, but only a 6.9% increase from 2010, when 34 funders reported investing US$2.5 billion.

While investments recorded between 2009 and 2011 demonstrate a steady—albeit low—increase in funding, inflation and flatlining of public-sector budgets could put HIV treatment discovery in jeopardy. Simpler, more effective ART formulations are in the pipeline and more effective diagnostic tools are moving towards the market, but to ensure that these lifesaving tools are widely accessible, further commitment to HIV treatment R&D is necessary.

Funders from 18 countries participated in the yearly resource-tracking exercise. The US National Institutes of Health (NIH) was responsible for 62% of the total reported amount in 2011. This level of investment will decline with the impact of sequestration, the automatic across-the-board cuts to U.S. government spending, created in the Budget Control Act of 2011, which began last week on March 1.

The largest share of HIV treatment R&D funding, 51.8% (or US$1.4 billion) was directed to the development of new medications. Though the private sector is the leading funder of HIV treatment R&D, its participation in this resource-tracking effort was paltry, with only 8 of 41 institutions providing their investment figures for 2010 and 2011. As a result, private-sector participation is underrepresented here, giving the lead to the public sector, with 69.2% of the recorded 2011 total originating from public and international development agencies.

“We are disappointed that industry continues to be reluctant to report their investments in HIV treatment R&D,” said TAG’s executive director, Mark Harrington, “when we believe that their contribution to the research effort is significant, yet badly underreported.”

“TAG is concerned that public-sector investment is flat when the world needs to reach 15 million HIV positive people with treatment by 2015,” said Harrington. "This is particularly troubling in the United States—since the government funds 63% or nearly two-thirds of the global reported total of HIV treatment research—where the current sequestration of federal funding will cost the NIH $1.5 billion (5%) of its current-year budget, directly threatening urgently needed progress in research to develop more effective treatments for HIV, a cure, and a vaccine to end the epidemic," he added.

“For the first time, the end of the AIDS epidemic is within reach if we act,” said Mitchell Warren, executive director of AVAC. “Research into better treatment regimens and ways to narrow the gaps in the treatment cascade have the potential to expand treatment access to improve health outcomes for people living with HIV/AIDS and will play a critical role in reducing the cycle of new infections. The past three years have been a period of modest growth investment in HIV treatment R&D. With greater sustained and flexible funding, the future of HIV treatment research will be even more promising.”

Along with drug development, TAG records investments in basic science; applied/infrastructure/unspecified research; HIV diagnostics; therapeutic vaccines; treatment as prevention; and operational and implementation science. “The goal of this report is to provide evidence-based data on investments in HIV treatment research. We urge more HIV research funders to participate in this project and help us create an accurate account of the world’s response to curbing and ultimately ending the epidemic with innovative tools,” said Marina Smelyanskaya, the report author. “With better data, the report can serve as a roadmap for activists, policy makers, and funders to identify key resources and gaps in HIV treatment R&D funding,” she added.

The report called for greater transparency of pharmaceutical research investments, multisectorial collaboration, and support from global advocates in its resource-tracking efforts.

The HIV Treatment Research and Development Resource Tracking Project is a collaborative initiative of TAG and AVAC, directed and managed by TAG, with financial support from the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS).

Download report here.


Marina Smelyanskaya, +1-347-301-4955



About TAG: Treatment Action Group is an independent AIDS research and policy think tank fighting for better treatment, a vaccine, and a cure for AIDS.

TAG works to ensure that all people with HIV receive lifesaving treatment, care, and information. We are science-based treatment activists working to expand and accelerate vital research and effective community engagement with research and policy institutions. TAG catalyzes open collective action by all affected communities, scientists, and policy makers to end AIDS.

About AVAC: Founded in 1995, AVAC is a non-profit organization that uses education, policy analysis, advocacy and a network of global collaborations to accelerate the ethical development and global delivery of AIDS vaccines, male circumcision, microbicides, PrEP and other emerging HIV prevention options as part of a comprehensive response to the pandemic.