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Global health vs. global wealth: Looming choice for health firms in developing countries
Date:9/9/2010

The lure of greater profits elsewhere in the world may divert bio-pharmaceutical firms in developing countries from the creation and distribution of affordable drugs, vaccines and diagnostics for illnesses of local concern, undermining the health prospects of millions of poor people, experts warn.

And they call for a series of measures to bolster international support for continuing the success of firms finding homegrown solutions to immediate health concerns in developing countries.

In a commentary published by the journal Nature Biotechnology, researchers Rahim Rezaie and Peter A. Singer at Canada's McLaughlin Rotman Centre for Global Health say biotech companies in China, India, South Africa and Brazil are making important, innovative contributions to address health problems in the south.

Biotech firms in emerging economies are putting into the hands of countless people affordable products to prevent, diagnose and remedy illnesses of local concern.

Most famously, perhaps, a hepatitis B vaccine developed by Shantha Biotechnics of Hyderabad, India, helped cause a domestic price reduction from about $15 for a comparable imported product to roughly $0.25 today. Experts credit Shanthas innovative, efficient manufacturing process and well as subsequent local competition.

Process and other innovations have allowed Shantha to bring 11 products to market so far. Beginning with just $1.2 million in "angel" investor funded, Shantha was purchased last year by Sanofi-Aventis of Paris for 571 ($784 million) .

(In a separate Nature Biotechnology article, India's billion dollar biotech, published last month, MRC researchers Justin Chakma, Hassan Masum, Kumar Perampaladas, Jennifer Heys and Peter A. Singer captured lessons from Shantha Biotechnicss success at making health products more affordable for poor people in India and elsewhere. Shantha shows developing world biotech innovators can maintain a bala
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Contact: Terry Collins
terrycollins@rogers.com
416-538-8712
McLaughlin-Rotman Centre for Global Health
Source:Eurekalert  

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