Global investment in microbicide R&D decreased in 2015, from US$193 million in 2014 to US$178 million. The public sector remained the greatest overall contributor at 91 percent of the total, but at US$162 million, this represents an 11 percent decrease from 2014 contributions. The philanthropic sector followed at 5.5 percent of the total contribution, and the commercial sector comprised 3.3 percent.
While philanthropic and commercial contributions were small relative to overall public-sector investment, funding from both sectors increased over 2014 levels – by 18 percent in the case of the philanthropic sector and by over 100 percent in the commercial sector. One single philanthropic funder powered the increase from the philanthropic sector in 2015: the BMGF.
Despite the overall decrease, 2015 was a productive year for microbicide R&D. Two of the most important trials – ASPIRE and The Ring Study – produced (modest) positive results and several other vaginal and rectal products were ongoing. The outcomes of HOPE and ASPIRE served to highlight the unique needs of adolescent girls and young women and raised challenges to be solved in the design of products specifically aimed at meeting these needs. With adherence issues at the fore, it is reasonable to expect the amount of funding allocated to behavioral research and biometrics to increase in the coming years.
The Working Group also collected data on multipurpose prevention technology (MPT) R&D, finding that the rapid, multi-year increase in investment toward these potentially game-changing products continued in 2015. At US$48 million, the 2015 investment was 1.5 times that of 2014, and over seven times the US$6.5 million reported in 2013, reflecting the continued optimism surrounding MPT’s and the benefits they could bring to sexual and reproductive health at the global level.