SEATTLE--(BUSINESS WIRE)--BIO Ventures for Global Health (BVGH), is launching the African Access Initiative (AAI) at 10:30 am today at the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) International Convention at the San Diego Convention Center, Room 28AB, to address Africa’s emerging cancer crisis. Led by BVGH in partnership with Pfizer, Inc., Takeda Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd., and the African Organisation for Research and Training in Cancer (AORTIC), AAI will expand access to oncology medicines and improve cancer care in Africa. Cancer kills 60% more people in Africa than malaria, and the number of cancer deaths is expected to increase almost 70% by 2030.
“Progress in addressing cancer in Africa lags far behind the United States,” said BVGH President Jennifer Dent. “In the US, many cancers are diagnosed at the earliest, most treatable stages, and women with breast cancer today have a 90% chance of survival partially due to the life-saving medicines that have been developed. Cancer death rates overall have declined 25% over the last two decades. Unfortunately, the benefits of these medicines are not yet seen in Africa.”
“The devastating reality in Africa is that cancer is nearly always fatal, and patients and their families have little or no hope for survival and recovery,” stated Dr. Olufunmilayo (Funmi) Olopade, Director of the Center for Clinical Cancer Genetics at the University of Chicago.
The reasons underlying Africa’s cancer crisis are complex, but increasingly overwhelmed and under-resourced healthcare systems—plagued by shortages of life-saving medications, essential diagnostic and therapeutic equipment, and trained providers—are major barriers to quality care. Additional factors include disproportionately low health expenditures by African governments and international stakeholders; differences in tumor biology between African cancer patients and patients in developed countries; and inadequate infrastructure to support research on Africa’s unique cancer landscape to inform cancer control planning. For example, the proportion of triple negative breast tumors—which are associated with poorer prognosis—is higher in Africa compared with other regions.
AAI leverages BVGH’s strong industry relationships, African networks, and capacity-building programs to start to tackle this crisis. Four African countries—Cameroon, Côte d'Ivoire, Kenya and Nigeria —have been selected for the first phase of the initiative, in which BVGH will identify cancer care and research needs in each participating country and hospital; match those needs with participating companies’ oncology portfolios and research capacity building capabilities; develop innovative business models driven by country/hospital priorities and aligned with company interests; and coordinate delivery of medicines, technologies, and training.
“At Pfizer, we strive to provide access to safe, effective, and affordable medicines worldwide, and the need is particularly urgent in oncology given the rising burden of cancer. We realize that no single entity can accomplish this ambitious goal, so we are excited to partner with BVGH, African governmental and healthcare leaders, and leading cancer researchers on AAI, which offers a creative and sustainable approach to meeting this challenge in Africa,” said Dr. Freda Lewis-Hall, Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer, Pfizer.
“Access to innovative medicines and quality healthcare is vital to the health of people across the world,” said Christophe Weber, President and CEO, Takeda. “In line with Takeda’s values, our Access to Medicines strategy will expand on our existing commitments to enhance global health, so that our innovative and potentially lifesaving medicines can be more accessible and affordable to patients in regions such as Sub-Saharan Africa.”
“We look forward to extending our commitment to the region and its people by supporting access to medicines, knowledge exchange, and capacity development through AAI,” said Chris Reddick, Vice President, Medical Professional Affairs and R&D Access to Medicines Lead, Takeda.
To coincide with the AAI launch at BIO, BVGH and partners have released a white paper on cancer care in Africa. BVGH is also presenting a panel session on the African cancer crisis at 3:00 pm in Room 27AB of the San Diego Convention Center, as well as hosting the third annual Africa Pavilion to foster partnerships between African scientists and global life science leaders.
About BIO Ventures for Global Health (BVGH)
BIO Ventures for Global Health (BVGH) is a non-profit organization working at the crossroads of the private and public sectors to advance research and improve health. BVGH connects people, resources, and ideas across biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies, governments, and non-profits to solve global health issues. For more information about BVGH, please visit http://www.bvgh.org/.
About the African Organisation for Research and Training in Cancer (AORTIC)
AORTIC seeks to become the continent’s pre-eminent non-profit organisation working for cancer control. AORTIC will achieve this through the facilitation of research and training as well as the provision of relevant and accurate information on the prevention, early diagnosis, treatment, and palliation of cancer. Our organisation is dedicated to providing all Africans with these benefits, as well as to increasing public awareness of cancer and reducing the stigma associated with it.
At Pfizer, we apply science and our global resources to bring therapies to people that extend and significantly improve their lives. We strive to set the standard for quality, safety and value in the discovery, development and manufacture of health care products. Our global portfolio includes medicines and vaccines, as well as many of the world's best-known consumer health care products. Every day, Pfizer colleagues work across developed and emerging markets to advance wellness, prevention, treatments and cures that challenge the most feared diseases of our time. Consistent with our responsibility as one of the world's premier innovative biopharmaceutical companies, we collaborate with health care providers, governments and local communities to support and expand access to reliable, affordable health care around the world. For more than 150 years, Pfizer has worked to make a difference for all who rely on us.
Takeda is a patient-focused, innovation-driven global pharmaceutical company that builds on a distinguished 235-year history, aspiring to bring better health and a brighter future for people worldwide. The network of Takeda spans over 70 countries and regions worldwide, in Japan, the United States, Europe, Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, and the Asia Pacific Region. Takeda's pharmaceutical products are marketed in around 100 countries worldwide, including partnerships (marketing alliance partners).