Italy - Global health R&D


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

Italy’s support for research and development (R&D) is very low. According to G-FINDER data, Italy has not reported significant financial contributions to global health R&D since 2012. Global health R&D is not featured in the three-year Programming Guidelines, the document guiding Italy’s development cooperation.

According to data from the G-FINDER survey conducted by Policy Cures Research, Italy did not contribute any funding for global health R&D in 2019. The latest data available on Italy’s funding to global health R&D is from 2018. In that year, Italy contributed  US$0.6 million to global health R&D, all of which was dedicated to HIV/AIDS and was spent on basic research and drugs. HIV/AIDS is considered both a PRND and a component of SRH.

Through the G-FINDER survey, Policy Cures Research has collected data on donors’ contributions to R&D for EIDs between 2014 and 2019. During that time, Italy has not reported any funding in this category.

Although Italy’s funding toward R&D is minimal, recently, Italy has shown a strong commitment to increasing access to medicine, as well as improving drug pricing transparency. At the World Health Assembly in May of 2019, Italy co-drafted a resolution on ‘Improving the transparency of markets for drugs, vaccines, and other health-related technologies’. 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.

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Italy has participated in R&D efforts as part of the international response. Italy pledged €10 million (US$12 million) to the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) at the Coronavirus Global Response Pledging Conference in May of 2020.  

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

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

In April of 2016, Italy 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.