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India's Contribution To Global Health R&D Needs Domestic, International Support

As the BRIC countries — Brazil, Russia, India, and China — invest more in innovations in health technologies and other areas, “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,” David de Ferranti, president of Results for Development Institute (R4D), writes in the Huffington Post Blog. Writing that “India, which has already played such an important role in manufacturing affordable antiretroviral drugs, vaccines, and other essential health commodities for developing countries,” de Ferranti asks whether India “is … ready to play a leading role in health R&D?”

De Ferranti notes that a yearlong study by R4D “concludes that India has much to contribute to global health R&D, but Indian innovators cannot meet this challenge alone, and important obstacles still have to be addressed.” He continues, “Furthermore, India’s potential over the next few years is different across different classes of products, with the country better poised to contribute in vaccines and diagnostic tests than in traditional drug development.” De Ferranti outlines how the Indian vaccine, drug, and diagnostics industries are approaching new product development, and he writes that new R&D programs “must be driven by the Indian government, but donor agencies and international partners should continue to lend a hand by creating funding programs that complement government initiatives and focus on diseases of the poor, promoting technology transfer and clarifying the patent landscape for needed products, and articulating their top international procurement priorities” (8/28).