Germany - Global health R&D
At a glance
Germany has increased funding for global health R&D in recent years, making it the fourth-largest public donor in 2018
In 2018, Germany invested US$73 million in research and development (R&D) on poverty-related and neglected diseases (PRNDs), referred to in this profile as ‘global health R&D’. This makes Germany the fourth-largest public funder of R&D for PRNDs in 2018 (in absolute terms), up from fifth in 2017, according to G-FINDER
data. Germany’s funding for global health R&D has increased by 47% since 2016. Between 2017 and 2018, funding went up by US$3.7 million or 5%.
Health R&D and PRNDs are highlighted as priorities in Germany’s 2017 to 2021 coalition treaty. Germany’s newly published Federal Global Health strategy (October 2020) also defines strengthening Global Health R&D as one of five strategic key areas for the next 10 years. Global health R&D was also a topic of interest during Germany’s G7 and G20 presidencies, with antimicrobial resistance (AMR) highlighted as a priority in the final communiqués of both summits. As an immediate outcome of the G20 summit, a G20 AMR R&D Collaboration Hub was launched in Berlin.
Academic and other research institutions received 50% (US$37 million) of all global health R&D funding. Germany also channels a large proportion of its R&D funding through product development partnerships (PDPs, 27% in 2018). PDPs are international, non-for-profit organizations making vaccines, drugs, and diagnostics for neglected and poverty-related diseases available at affordable costs. Under the current PDP call (2016 to 2021) the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) will contribute up to €50 million (US$59 million), doubling the contributions made between 2011 to 2015.
BMBF also supports the European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP) with up to €40 million (US$47 million) for 2003 to 2024. EDCTP focuses on funding clinical research (with a focus on phase II and III clinical trials) to accelerate the development of new or improved drugs, vaccines, microbicides, and diagnostics for poverty-related infectious diseases in sub-Saharan Africa, including HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis (TB), and malaria. In 2018, Germany’s funding focused on TB (US$25 million or 34% of its total global health R&D funding), HIV/AIDS (US$11 million or 15%) and malaria (US$10 million or 14%).
BMBF-funded PDPs 2016-2020:
- International Partnership for Microbicides (IPM) for the development of safe microbicides for women in HIV prevention
- Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND)
- European & Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP)
- PATH for the development of malaria vaccines
- Global Alliance for TB Drug Development (TB Alliance) for more effective and affordable drugs for TB
- Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi) for drug development against African trypanosomiasis, Visceral Leishmaniosis, Chagas disease, and worm infections
- Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV) for the development of new malaria drugs
Investments by Germany in global health R&D are rising, especially given Germany’s response to the COVID-19 crisis. By May 2020, BMBF committed €230 million (US$271 million) in immediate funding to the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) to support the development of a vaccine against COVID-19. In addition, the BMBF channeled €1.5 million (US$1.8 million) to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) ‘Solidarity Trial’ to help find an effective treatment for COVID-19. The BMBF has further established a national vaccine research program amounting to €750 million (US$885 million) and aimed at strengthening research on vaccines and at expanding production capacities. To this end, the BMBF is partnering with the three pharmaceutical companies BioNTech, CureVac, and IDT Biologika.
According to the federal budget draft for 2021, the field of health research and health economy is set to receive €874 million (US$1.0 billion), which represents an increase of 128% compared to pre-COVID-19 figures in the original budget 2020. Of this amount, €110 million (US$130 million) is set to be channeled towards CEPI and €24 million (US$28 million) towards PDPs, according to the budget draft, which is an increase of €90 million (US$106 million) and €14 million (US$17 million), respectively, compared to pre-COVID-19 figures in the original 2020 budget.
Three ministries provide funding for global health R&D
Political responsibility for global health R&D lies with the BMBF. It has a four pillar approach to R&D funding: 1) strengthen Germany’s national research landscape, 2) fund PDPs, 3) support EDCTP, and 4) strengthen African health research systems and increase research cooperation with countries in sub-Saharan Africa.
BMBF provides two-thirds of Germany’s total global health R&D funding (68% or US$50 million in 2018). For its engagement with Africa, BMBF has its own dedicated Africa Strategy, which was reissued at the end of 2018. It focuses on innovation, training, and qualification.
Government-funded research institutions play a significant role in Germany’s global health R&D landscape. The German Research Foundation (DFG) — an association of public research organizations — is the most important funder, providing 26% (US$19 million) of Germany’s funding for global health R&D in 2018. The DFG receives funding from the federal government and federal states. Key research institutions that conduct health R&D include the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research, the Robert Koch Institute, and the Max Planck Society.