Drugmakers are now working on over 100 R&D projects designed to tackle diseases of the developing world and almost 80% of them are being carried out with non-industry partners.

So says the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers & Associations which has published a report  detailing the efforts of its members to develop medicines and vaccines for the 10 DDWs prioritised by the Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases, co-sponsored by UNICEF, the United Nations Development Programme, the World Bank and the World Health Organisation. The 10 diseases are (in order of decreasing mortality) tuberculosis, malaria, human African trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness), leishmaniasis, dengue, onchocerciasis (River blindness), American trypanosomiasis (Chagas disease), schistosomiasis, leprosy and lymphatic filariasis.

The number of projects undertaken by IFPMA companies has increased from 84 in 2009 to 102 this year. Tuberculosis programmes grew from 25 to 31 and malaria projects from 34 to 41.

Haruo Naito, president of IFPMA and chief executive of Eisai, speaking at the association's assembly in Washington DC, said the report "shows that our industry is serious about helping to address human diseases, including those which otherwise risk being neglected because they affect poor countries". He noted that nearly four out of five DDW research projects are undertaken in cooperation with non-pharma partners and special mention was given to the recently-opened Merck Sharp and Dohme Wellcome Trust Hilleman Laboratories in New Delhi, India.

The Washington meeting also saw AstraZeneca chief executive David Brennan elected IFPMA president, succeeding Mr Naito John Lechleiter and Masafumi Nogimori, CEOs of Eli Lilly and Astellas Pharma have been elected as vice presidents.

Mr Brennan said that "our industry needs to rebuild trust and do a better job of showing the public that we play a crucial role in addressing healthcare challenges, in all parts of the world". He added that "increasing the levels of transparency is one of the best ways to build relationships and understanding".

Finally, IFPMA announced that Amgen has become its newest member, joining 26 "leading international companies and 46 national and regional industry associations".