Intended for healthcare professionals


Neglected diseases

BMJ 2005; 330 doi: (Published 17 February 2005) Cite this as: BMJ 2005;330:376
  1. Michael D Rawlins, professor (
  1. Wolfson Unit of Clinical Pharmacology, Medical School, University of Newcastle, Newcastle upon Tyne NE2 4HH

    “Priority medicines for Europe and the world” is a wake up call from WHO

    Few readers of the BMJ were probably aware or even cared that the presidency of the EU Council was held by the Dutch government during the second six months of 2004. Nevertheless, history is likely to remember the Dutch presidency with gratitude. For in the run up to it, the Dutch government commissioned the World Health Organization to develop a research agenda for the European Union that was based on public health needs for priority medicines.

    The commendable report was published last November.1 Masterminded by Warren Kaplan and Richard Laing, and using a new approach, it is a work of scholarship. It covers a wide range of critical issues and makes many far reaching research proposals for the European Union. But underlying these extensive data and careful analyses are some chilling implications. Here are a few.

    Firstly, contemporary notions of neglected diseases are far too circumscribed. They include both rare (orphan) diseases as well as common disorders (mainly communicable) …

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