June 28, 2017

Event Report: GHIT Fund Replenishment Press Conference

The GHIT Fund held a press conference at the Kioi conference center in Tokyo on June 1, 2017, announcing its replenishment with a USD 200 million commitment for the next five years (FY2018-FY2022) from its funding partners. The following GHIT Council members participated: Government of Japan (Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare), Japanese pharmaceutical companies (Astellas Pharma Inc., Chugai Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd., Daiichi Sankyo Company, Ltd., Eisai Co., Ltd., Shionogi & Co., Ltd., and Takeda Pharmaceutical Company, Ltd.), and Foundations (Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Welcome Trust).


Clockwise from left: Yoshihiko Hatanaka (Representative Director, President and CEO, Astellas Pharma Inc.), Tatsuro Kosaka (President & COO, Chugai Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd.), George Nakayama (Representative Director, Chairman and CEO, Daiichi Sankyo Company, Limited), Haruo Naito (Representative Corporate Officer and CEO, Eisai Co., Ltd.), Isao Teshirogi (President and CEO, Shionogi & Co., Ltd.), Christophe Weber (Representative Director, President and CEO, Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Limited), Stephen Caddick (Director, Innovations Division, Wellcome Trust), Eiji Hinoshita (Director, Global Health Policy Division, International Cooperation Bureau, Ministry of Foreign Affairs), Kiyoshi Kurokawa (Representative Director and Chair, GHIT Fund), BT Slingsby (CEO, GHIT Fund), Naoko Yamamoto (Assistant Minister for Global Health, Minister’s Secretariat, Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare), Andrin Oswald (Director, Life Sciences Partnerships, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation)


BT Slingsby (CEO, GHIT Fund)


GHIT Fund CEO Dr. BT Slingsby opened the press conference by revisiting GHIT’s inception, when the Japanese government, Japanese pharmaceutical companies, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation collaborated to create a matching fund to promote product development for infectious diseases by using Japan’s untapped pharmaceutical technology and capabilities. He shared key activities and investments to date illustrating how, in just four years, Japan’s innovations have made a critical impact on global health R&D.


Dr. BT Slingsby also described six GHIT-funded clinical trials that are currently taking place in Africa and South America. He noted how replenishment funds will be used to accelerate these trials and other product development in order to move products to market. The USD 200 million replenishment amount effectively double the size of the GHIT Fund. "In our second phase, it is imperative for us to accelerate product development further and deliver those products to patients. We will build a delivery strategy in partnership with domestic and overseas organizations,” Slingsby mentioned.


Press Conference


Additionally, Dr. Isao Teshirogi, President and CEO of Shionogi Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd., gave a keynote lecture on behalf of the Council of the GHIT Fund, entitled "Accelerating Japan’s Innovation for Global Health." Dr. Teshirogi discussed key global health issues, such as threats of emerging and reemerging infectious diseases on the global scale, the impact of neglected tropical diseases, and access to medicines and healthcare. He also emphasized Japan’s responsibility and role in tackling these issues. First, Japan is one of the world's leading drug discovery countries and has a responsibility to address unmet medical needs. Second, from the perspective of national security, it is important to protect the health of Japanese citizens against infectious diseases beyond national borders. Third, Japanese pharmaceutical companies can contribute to creating a new market in low and middle income countries by supporting and improving public health in the global health arena.


Isao Teshirogi (President and CEO, Shionogi & Co., Ltd.)


Dr. Teshirogi emphasized that the GHIT Fund is a successful case of public-private partnership. "All Council members here today are seriously committed to the GHIT Fund for doing the right thing. It is very rare for CEOs of pharmaceutical companies to get together, but all CEOs here have been strongly committed to and passionate about the GHIT Fund for a long time and for a specific mission. I do not know of any other public-private partnership like this successful case.” He Teshirogi went on to describe the solidarity and unity between the GHIT Fund and its stakeholders and expressed hope for further changes in attitudes towards global health R&D, including among the Japanese government, companies, and academia. Dr. Teshirogi concluded by indicating that "Continuing this momentum reinforces Japan's leadership and international presence.”


Stephen Caddick (Director, Innovations Division, Wellcome Trust)


In the Q & A session, journalists asked about the impact of government changes in Europe and the United States on health-related budgets, and the expected role of private companies and foundations in this environment. Council members provided such responses as” “We are now living in an uncertain time, but there is nevertheless an opportunity to demonstrate our leadership" and "The field of global health has always experienced significant funding gaps, therefore we should work together by utilizing the strengths of public-private partnerships, and leveraging knowledge, funds, and resources in order to deliver products to those who need them the most."


Dr. Kiyoshi Kurokawa, Chair of the GHIT Fund, concluded that it is essential to further strengthen and improve governance and management capabilities in the GHIT Fund in order to meet expectations in the institution’s second phase.


Kiyoshi Kurokawa (Representative Director and Chair, GHIT Fund)