America, arsenal of democracy. And drugs for neglected diseases.

According to a recent report in the Pharma Times:

The US government is the world's leading funder of global health research and development, investing more than US$12.7 billion over the past 10 years in new vaccines, drugs, diagnostics and other products for neglected diseases of the developing world, a new report has found.

The health and economic benefits of this support, both domestically and internationally, provide "clear reasons" for the US to maintain - and, where possible, increase - this support, says the Washington-based Global Health Technologies Coalition (GHTC), which released the report along with independent research group Policy Cures.

The article also notes that:

The US government was involved in developing more than half (24/53%) of the 45 global health products introduced between 2000 and 2010, while US federal agencies are working with other stakeholders on 200 (55%) of the 365 global health products currently in the R&D pipeline, including what is likely to be the first ever vaccine against malaria, three HIV vaccine candidates and a new generation of improved TB drugs, the report points out.

That's a more than a public health record to be proud of. Improving health in developing countries can pay dividends down the line by producing wealthier, more stable countries that represent future trading partners for American companies, future producers for American consumers, and - hopefully - produces more stable, democratic regimes.

The report also calls for the U.S. to do more to accelerate translational research, noting that government funding has been concentrated on early stage research, as opposed to clinical research, which is much more expensive, uncertain, and difficult.

Improving translational research - especially in ways that make drug development more predictable and less expensive - would pay dividends across many different therapeutic areas, including neglected diseases.

We should also note that U.S. funded research (primarily by private industry) on chronic diseases (like diabetes and heart disease) also benefits populations in developing countries - who, as they become wealthier, develop many of the same illnesses prevalent in affluent Western nations.

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