The Product Development Partnership Model

The Product Development Partnership Model

The Product Development Partnership model

In the late 1990s an innovative collaboration model for R&D for neglected diseases emerged in the form of public-private partnerships (PPPs) that came to be known as product development partnerships (PDPs).

PDPs were created from a desire to generate innovative approaches to alleviate the global burden of neglected diseases by taking the expertise and knowledge of both the private and public sectors, and exploiting each of their strengths to find the most efficient and effective solutions.

PDPs address the lack of commercial incentive to undertake R&D for vaccines, diagnostics, and drugs for neglected diseases of the developing world. They use public and philanthropic funds to engage the pharmaceutical industry and academic research institutions in undertaking R&D for diseases of the developing world that they would normally be unable or unwilling to pursue independently, without additional incentives. 

The PDP itself does not often have the capacity or infrastructure to undertake early stage development projects in-house; instead, it relies on its partners for financing and other in-kind contributions (i.e. laboratories and expertise) and it itself allocates resources to the most promising projects, coordinates partner activities for various stages of the R&D process, and manages the project portfolio. The PDP acts as a facilitator, bringing dedicated sources of funding and know-how to committed researchers so they can collaborate on the right projects to fulfil the objectives of the PDP’s mission.

The specific objectives of individual PDPs vary, but the basic mission is the same: to develop pharmaceutical products for use as a public good to address the health needs of vulnerable populations in the developing world.

PDP model

Image credit: Comstone, Pierre Cassanay


Over the past two decades, MMV has worked with more than 400 partners globally, including over 200 in malaria-endemic countries. These include research and implementation partners, manufacturers, donors and local governments.


MMV’s work would not be possible without our donors. We receive funding and support from government agencies, private foundations, international organizations, corporations, corporate foundations and private individuals. These funds are used to finance the MMV portfolio of R&D projects and to support specific, targeted access interventions that make it easier for vulnerable populations to access MMV products.

Private sector (Biotech & Pharma)

MMV leverages the facilities, knowledge and expertise of the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries, drawing on their valuable experience and resources at every stage of the drug development process and applying it to our own. These could include gaining access to novel and proprietary compound libraries to boost the diversity of our candidate drugs in discovery research or benefiting from industry experience in manufacturing and distribution in preparation for the launch of one of our products.

Similar to our collaboration principles with academia, where MMV is funding a research programme we expect the partner, at a minimum, to match the value of the contract through in-kind contributions (for example staff costs, laboratory space, equipment, overheads), thus maximizing MMV’s financial resources.

Public sector 

Our partnerships with the public sector span a large number of different organizations and functions that can be grouped into three entities:

Research & academic institutions

MMV’s partnerships with research and academic institutions bring together world class science and creativity. As the primary function of academic institutions is to generate and share knowledge not driven by profit, they are well positioned to carry out specialized research during the discovery phase of the R&D process. Similar to our collaboration principles with the private sector, MMV also negotiates in-kind contributions from academic partners to maximize MMV’s funds.


MMV interacts with many governments, a number of which are donors keen to support global health initiatives. Our work would not be possible without these key partnerships. In addition, MMV works closely with other governments in malaria-endemic countries via their Ministries of Health, assisting and advising on malaria treatment and control strategies. These high-level partnerships form an integral part of our Access work and have allowed us to implement innovative approaches to expand access to treatment through public, private and community-health sectors.  As such, these partnerships are critical to the implementation of MMV projects in malaria-endemic countries.

International organizations

In addition to working with the public and private sectors, MMV also interacts with a large number of international organizations in a two-way dialogue to shape the malaria agenda and implement policy. This is mutually beneficial. International organizations are informed of MMV’s advances in antimalarial drug development and we are informed in advance of imminent policy developments.  

NGOs and non profit organizations

Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and non profit organizations occupy a special niche in our partnership network often providing skills and knowledge that bridge the private and public sector or government partnerships.This group of organizations includes fellow product development partnerships as well as advocacy initiatives seeking to raise awareness about the need for new malaria medicines.

Clinical centres 

Clinical trials are a key phase in the R&D process and determine if a new drug is effective and well tolerated by patients. Over the past 10 years MMV has built up a significant network of clinical trial sites in malaria-endemic countries. Projects at these sites strengthen existing local capacity and stimulate critical research. Researchers and scientists in endemic countries are a rich resource and MMV is proud to support their research environment.

The PDP Model