A map of the alternative biomedical R&D landscape

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The current biomedical Research and Development (R&D) system serves profit over people. Despite the global crisis of high drug prices, R&D investments continue to focus on medicines that can be sold at high prices leaving much needed medicines undeveloped. This is failure of both the market and public policy.

In the last 15 years, various R&D initiatives have appeared in response to this failure. Some offer true alternative models of R&D driven by health needs, while others continue business as usual. UAEM’s RE:Route mapping provides a qualitative review of the alternative biomedical R&D initiatives around the world that are active or proposed. While this mapping covers a significant number of potential alternatives, it is evident that the need for fundamental change is as urgent as ever.

Re:Route aims to engage in a growing collaborative dialogue around the exploration of needs-driven and people-oriented biomedical R&D. The United Nations High Level Panel on Access to Medicines referenced Re:Route in its final report released in the Fall of 2016.

Since the completion of the initial mapping and launch of the report in February 2016, we have further developed our analysis of the mapping, enabling us to turn the existing qualitative data into quantitative data that we have used to create an initial set of interactive online tools: Visualization Tools and Story Board. We hope these tools will be used to engage students, faculty and other key stakeholders in transformative discussions around ethical and needs-driven biomedical R&D and technology transfer at the university level and beyond. If you would like to learn more or are interested in having a UAEM member present this research on your campus, please contact us here.

Lack of access to essential medicines1




Sub-Saharan Africa

Approximately 1 in 3 people around the world lack access to essential medicines. In Sub-Saharan Africa, this rises to 1 in 2.

Reported cost per drug: Pharma Companies vs Alternative Initiatives2

$US 2.5B 2.0B 1.5B 1.0B 500m 0


Big Pharma


Alternative R&D Model

Some alternative R&D models have shown that it is possible to produce new drugs at a fraction of the cost that pharmaceutical companies claim to spend.

Major new antibiotics developed since 19853


  • 1985 1995
  • 2005
  • 2015

In the past 30 years, no major new antibiotics have been developed in response to increasing antimicrobial resistance.

Projected increase in non-communicable diseases (NCDs)4


Of all premature deaths caused by NCDs occur in low- and middle-income countries.

Many NCDs medicines are extremely high cost. eg: In Pakistan leukemia treatment costs US$ 20,000, 7 times the per capita income.

See Source

  1. p. 25. Working Group on Access to Essential Medicines. UN Millennium Project--Task Force on HIV/AIDS, Malaria, TB and Access to Essential Medicines. United Nations Development Programme. 2005.
    2.6 billion price:
  3. World Health Organization. “Antimicrobial Resistance: Global Report on Surveillance 2014.”
  4. WHO discussion paper on Essential Medicines and Access to Basic health technologies for non-communicable diseases
Download the Mapping

Explore the Data

These data visualization tools provide an interactive display of preliminary findings from the Re:Route Map of Alternative R&D Initiatives and emphasize the key role that universities can play in alternative biomedical research.

Share the Knowledge

We are part of a global network advocating for a new approach to biomedical R&D. We invite you to join the conversation.

See Source

  1. 1 in 3: p. 25. Working Group on Access to Essential Medicines. UN Millennium Project--Task Force on HIV/AIDS, Malaria, TB and Access to Essential Medicines. United Nations Development Programme. 2005.
  2. 2%: Till, Brian. “How Drug Companies Keep Medicine Out of Reach,” The Atlantic. May 15, 2013.
  3. 7 days: World Health Organization. The World Medicines Situation 2011: Medicines Prices, Availability and Affordability. p.9
  4. Delinkage:
  5. 25,000: World Health Organization. Antibiotic resistance fact sheet. October 2015.
  6. 11,315: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “2014 Ebola Outbreak in West Africa.” January 3, 2016.
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