Italy - Global health R&D

Italy GH R&D

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Funding to global health R&D is low but Italy has been vocal about improving market transparency for drugs

Italy’s support to research and development (R&D) for poverty-related and neglected diseases (PRNDs), referred to as ‘global health R&D’ in this profile, is very low. Global health R&D is not featured in the three-year Programming and Policy Guidelines, the document guiding the focus of Italy’s development cooperation, and neither in the Directions for Italian Development Cooperation 2017-2019 which explains the low funding levels. According to G-FINDER data, Italy has not reported significant financial contributions to global health R&D since 2012.

In 2018, Italy contributed less than US$1 million to global health R&D, all of which was dedicated to HIV/AIDS and was spend on basic research and drugs.

Recently, Italy put forward a resolution on improving market transparency for drugs, vaccines, and other health-related technologies which was accepted by Member States during the 72nd session of the World Health Assembly (WHA) in May 2019. The resolution “urges member states in accordance with their national and regional legal frameworks and contexts” to make information on net prices public, and to support dissemination, availability, and overall transparency of procurement price data. However, the final resolution does not empower the World Health Organization (WHO) to collect and analyze concrete data on drug manufacturer's production costs, which had been the central aim of earlier drafts of the resolution.

In response to the COVID-19 crisis, Italy pledged €10 million (US$12 million) to the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) at the Coronavirus Global Response Pledging Conference in In May 2020. This followed CEPI’s urgent call for funds to help develop a COVID-19 vaccine.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs is the main funder for global health R&D

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has policy leadership around global health R&D and is responsible for the majority of funding in this sector.

In April 2016, the government set up a new Center for Global Health as part of the Italian National Institute for Health (ISS), which focuses on R&D for neglected diseases, including HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, Ebola, and Zika. The center is not yet fully operational. Currently, the ISS is headed by Professor Silvio Brusaferro.