MSH Receives $29.9 Million from Gates Foundation

Grant to help countries develop drug and vaccine programs to be used globally

BOSTON, MA — Management Sciences for Health (MSH) will use a $29.9 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to improve the drug supply systems of developing countries and create new public-private models that will promote sustainable, equitable access to priority drugs and vaccines throughout the world.

"Worldwide, millions of adults and children die each year from diseases that could have been treated or prevented if effective and affordable drugs and vaccines had been available and used properly," said Dr. Ron O'Connor, CEO of MSH. "We are grateful to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for giving us this opportunity to demonstrate that local-level, public/private collaboration can significantly increase access and equity."

In the past 50 years, pharmaceutical products and vaccines have revolutionized health care. Yet, because of budget constraints and poor infrastructure, hundreds of millions of people in developing countries do not have access to even basic essential drugs and vaccines.

Over the next five years MSH will work to develop and test models of public- and private-sector collaboration to improve access in developing countries. Each country program will transfer "cutting edge" technology, such as Internet-based drug management tools, adapted to local constraints. MSH also will provide technical support to global initiatives supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation that are developing new drugs and vaccines for priority diseases, such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria.

Dr. Gordon Perkin, Director of the Global Health Program at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, said, "MSH is recognized as both a leader in global drug management initiatives and as a preeminent provider of technical assistance in drug management. We are confident that this new program will produce practical, replicable, and equitable models for improving access to drugs and vaccines."

Recent international attention has focused on improving access to newer products to prevent or treat priority diseases in developing countries and on reducing the relatively high prices of these drugs, particularly for treating AIDS and other infectious diseases. However, new products and lower prices will do little good if the drugs and vaccines are not available where needed and if they are not properly used. "In most developing countries, governments have traditionally tried to support public programs to provide drugs and vaccines free of charge to their people. These programs have failed to serve the public well," said Jim Rankin, Director of the MSH Drug Management Program. "In the poorest countries, failure is compounded by the lack of funds to purchase necessary drugs. But in virtually all cases, the real problem is the lack of effective drug management systems, leading to wasted resources and reduced access to drugs."

This funding will test and evaluate innovative models in several developing countries. The successful models will then be replicated elsewhere in the developing world. MSH will coordinate its work on this project with the U.S. Agency for International Development, the World Bank, the World Health Organization, and other donors and international agencies.

"Experience has shown that neither government nor private sector systems working alone can make essential drugs and vaccines accessible to under-served areas of the world," said Rankin. "In most industrialized countries, the government regulates and monitors the quality of products and services, but relies on collaboration with the private sector to actually provide the services. This grant allows MSH to help developing countries identify appropriate models of public/private collaboration and adapt them to fit their local needs."