Johnson & Johnson has launched a new unit to centralise its activities in the developing world, covering the spectrum from clinical research to improving access to its treatments.

Janssen Global Public Health (Janssen GPH) has been formed to "align the company's groundbreaking science and innovative access models under a single entity". It will be responsible for clinical and product development and creating and implementing "innovative new access strategies" for pharmaceuticals and diagnostics "for diseases significantly impacting resource-limited countries and emerging markets".

The projects includes improving access to Sirturo (bedaquiline) for pulmonary multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) and the development of a long-acting, injectable version of the HIV medicine Edurant (rilpivirine), which "has the potential to significantly improve treatment outcomes in hard-to-reach areas of the developing world".

Janssen GPH will also prioritise work with the International Partnership for Microbicides developing the investigational drug dapivirine for use as a monthly vaginal microbicidal ring designed to prevent sexual transmission of HIV and continue its pact with Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative for the preclinical research of a reformulated form of flubendazole for lymphatic filariasis (elephantiasis) and onchocerciasis (river blindness),    

Janssen GPH is also developing a new, chewable formulation of Vermox (mebendazole) that will facilitate treatment of intestinal worms in younger children. It will also carry on with the UNITE Project, a consortium between the firm and "several partners with expertise in HIV/AIDS" using mobile phone technologies.

Beyond R&D, Janssen GPH will "cultivate and help implement innovative pricing and results-based financing models that improve access to these medicines". At the same time, it hopes to create "sustainable, long-term solutions based on country ownership and accountability for health services and outcomes".

Paul Stoffels, J&J's chief scientific officer, said that "to solve today's greatest public health challenges, it's essential that we emphasise the needs of the developing world in equal measure to those of the developed world". He added that  with this new group, "we've adopted a more focused approach to further develop and introduce our most promising medicines, and with other like-minded organisations, we look forward to advancing a sustainable platform that will make a significant impact on the lives of people around the world.".