A proposal to generate insecticides that could save millions of lives

August 10, 2017, Duke University

Researchers at Duke University have proposed a new mechanism for stimulating insecticide development to prevent the spread of deadly tropical diseases. The system is based on their similar proposal that has been spurring drug development for those same diseases since 2007.

"It's about reducing inefficiency in the regulatory process, and using the gains to fix a market failure in product development to benefit society as a whole," said David Ridley, a professor at Duke University's Fuqua School of Business and part of the team proposing a voucher reward for approving new insecticides through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The team's findings, "A Voucher System to Speed Review Could Promote a New Generation of Insecticides to Fight Vector-Borne Diseases," are published in the August issue of the journal Health Affairs.

Insecticides used in bed nets and homes have prevented millions of deaths from malaria and other diseases. But while the population of disease-carrying insects resistant to current treatments has grown, no new class of insecticides have been developed in the last 40 years because they are not sufficiently profitable.

The vector expedited review voucher (VERV) proposal would offer faster - though no less scientifically rigorous - review for any novel class of for public health use. The company behind the new product would also gain expedited review for a second, more profitable product intended to protect crops - as a way to encourage large agrochemical companies to invest in developing less profitable insecticides.

The proposal is based on the system Ridley and his colleague Jeffrey Moe, of the Duke Global Health Institute, proposed for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration a decade ago to encourage the development of treatments for tropical diseases. Congress made that proposal law in 2007. The FDA has issued 14 vouchers since that program began. They offer review of a drug in six months rather than the usual 10 months, which can make a huge difference to firms bringing a new product to market. Seven of the vouchers issues so far have been sold, fetching as much as $350 million.

Credit: Duke University
"We brought a creative solution to , and now we want to apply it to insecticide development," Moe said.

Ridley and Moe partnered with Nick Hamon, CEO of the Innovative Vector Control Consortium, a U.K.-based nonprofit that works to prevent the spread of insect-borne disease. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and others support the work of IVCC. IVCC in turn supported this project.

"Medicines are an important tool in fighting these diseases, but they are not the only tool," said Professor Moe. Whereas 65 percent of research and funding for malaria was for drugs and vaccines, only 6 percent was for vector control, according to the paper. Similarly, the market for vector-control products is less than $1 billion, while agricultural chemicals exceed $47 billion in annual sales. This limits the incentive for companies to enter the market.

The vector expedited review voucher proposal incorporates lessons learned through 10 years of the FDA voucher program, such as ensuring the projects that win vouchers are truly novel and will go where they're needed.

"Not a week goes by in which we don't discuss ways we can make the voucher review program better," Ridley said.

Ridley, who also works with Duke's Margolis Center for Health Policy, said he expects to see more of the vector review vouchers to be used by the companies that win them, because the industry is dominated by larger players that are less likely to sell to competitors.

"However, we might be surprised," he said. "There could be companies we've never heard of that receive investor funding and develop products because of the potential value of a VERV. That's one of the beauties of prizes like this - you don't pick the winners in advance."

Explore further: New research predicts market share for drug makers

More information: David B. Ridley et al. A Voucher System To Speed Review Could Promote A New Generation Of Insecticides To Fight Vector-Borne Diseases, Health Affairs (2017). DOI: 10.1377/hlthaff.2016.1640

Related Stories

New research predicts market share for drug makers

September 4, 2015
Lagging behind in launching new medicines means a much smaller market share for pharmaceutical companies—even if they spend just as much on advertising, according to new research from Duke University's Fuqua School of Business.

BASF introduces first new class of public health insecticide for malaria prevention in more than 30 years

July 13, 2017
BASF has received a recommendation from the World Health Organization (WHO) for Interceptor(R) G2, a long-lasting insecticide-treated mosquito net (LN) based on chlorfenapyr. Chlorfenapyr is a completely new insecticide class ...

Professor Janet Hemingway, outlines 15 years of malaria interventions in Africa

October 8, 2015
In an editorial in the weekly science journal Nature, LSTM's Director, Professor Janet Hemingway, looks at how the last 15 years of control measures have led to massive reductions in disease prevalence in Africa since 2000. ...

Researchers revolutionizing control of vector-borne diseases

July 7, 2017
Purdue University entomology professor Catherine Hill is researching a way to respond to new and reemerging vector borne diseases, specifically without wiping out the mosquito population.

High insecticide resistance found in the flea vector for plague in Madagascar

February 4, 2016
Madagascar is one of the countries with the highest incidence of bubonic plague in the world. As insecticides are highly important in controlling the spread of plague, researchers from the Institut Pasteur de Madagascar carried ...

Recommended for you

Experts caution study on plastics in humans is premature

October 23, 2018
Scientists in Austria say they've detected tiny bits of plastic in people's stool for the first time, but experts caution the study is too small and premature to draw any credible conclusion.

Can organic food help you reduce your risk of cancer? A new study suggests the answer may be yes

October 22, 2018
To reduce your risk of cancer, you know you should quit smoking, exercise regularly, wear sunscreen, and take advantage of screening tests. New research suggests another item might be added to this list: Choose organic foods ...

A topical gel that can prevent nerve damage due to spraying crops with pesticides

October 22, 2018
A team of researchers affiliated with several institutions in India has developed a topical get that can be used by farmers to prevent nerve damage due to chemical crop spraying. In their paper published in the journal Science ...

Moderate exercise before conception resulted in lower body weight, increased insulin sensitivity of offspring

October 22, 2018
Men who want to have children in the near future should consider hitting the gym.

Modern conflict: Screen time vs. nature

October 22, 2018
Even rural kids today spend more time in front of screens and less time outdoors, according to a new study of middle-school students in South Carolina.

Community health workers can reduce hospitalizations by 65 percent and double patient satisfaction with primary care

October 22, 2018
Community health workers—trusted laypeople from local communities who help high-risk patients to address social issues like food and housing insecurity—can help reduce hospital stays by 65 percent and double the rate ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.