In an effort to create smarter research and development efforts in limited markets, the World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) science division has launched the online Health Produce Profile Directory.
The focus is on neglected diseases and global health threats like antimicrobial resistance. The new directory provides a searchable database of health product profiles, each providing essential characteristics for the development of various health products. It is free to use, and WHO believes it will help interested parties work such attributes into the early development of new products. It was developed by the Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases (TDR).
“As the first global public good launched by WHO’s new Science Division, the Health Product Profile Directory exemplifies our effort to shape the global health research agenda to achieve health for all,” WHO Chief Scientist Soumya Swaminathan said. “While the Directory is launched with a focus on infectious diseases, we will update and grow the content, so I invite submissions of product profiles on other priority areas such as non-communicable diseases and antimicrobial resistance.”
Presently, the Directory contains 196 product profiles sources from 24 different agencies. Among these are tuberculosis, malaria, HIV, and Chagas. With help for vulnerable populations as the goal, WHO officials are seeking contributions from the rest of the global R&D community to bolster the Directory’s offerings. Full product profile documents are publicly available, with those prioritized by the WHO clearly marked. WHO doesn’t endorse non-WHO authored profiles, though it does include them, as it recognizes that all may benefit from the information they provide, especially in terms of gaps filled.
Specifically, the database is meant to counter the fact that less than 10 percent of new products submitted for regulatory review reference product profiles in the R&D process — an omission WHO believes contributes to ineffective R&D efforts.