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India: Becoming a powerhouse of innovation for neglected diseases and biotech drugs

The BRIC countries — Brazil, Russia, India, and China — are playing an increasingly important role in innovation. Their growing domestic markets demand goods that meet their specific needs, and their dynamic export industries are moving beyond simple imitation. This change is true in health technologies, such as vaccines, drugs and diagnostics, as well as in IT and other areas.

As innovation capabilities in emerging economies grow, many are looking to these countries to correct the global health research and development (R&D) imbalance that leaves the poor without needed products such as an improved tuberculosis (TB) vaccine or tests to help diagnose patients in remote rural settings.

India, which has already played such an important role in manufacturing affordable antiretroviral drugs, vaccines, and other essential health commodities for developing countries, has been a focus of these hopes. But is India ready to play a leading role in health R&D? Are Indian companies interested in new products for the poor, or are they focused, like their more established Western competitors, on more lucrative opportunities serving patients who can pay more for medicines?

Over the past year, the Results for Development Institute (R4D) has taken a close look at the potential of Indian innovators to create life-saving technologies for diseases of the poor.

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