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Open Access Highly Accessed Opinion

Technology innovation for infectious diseases in the developing world

Anthony D So* and Quentin Ruiz-Esparza

Author Affiliations

Program on Global Health and Technology Access, Sanford School of Public Policy and Duke Global Health Institute, Duke University, 302 Towerview Drive, CB# 90312, Durham, North Carolina, 27708, USA

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Infectious Diseases of Poverty 2012, 1:2  doi:10.1186/2049-9957-1-2

Published: 25 October 2012

Abstract

Enabling innovation and access to health technologies remains a key strategy in combating infectious diseases in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). However, a gulf between paying markets and the endemicity of such diseases has contributed to the dearth of R&D in meeting these public health needs. While the pharmaceutical industry views emerging economies as potential new markets, most of the world’s poorest bottom billion now reside in middle-income countries--a fact that has complicated tiered access arrangements. However, product development partnerships--particularly those involving academic institutions and small firms--find commercial opportunities in pursuing even neglected diseases; and a growing pharmaceutical sector in BRICS countries offers hope for an indigenous base of innovation. Such innovation will be shaped by 1) access to building blocks of knowledge; 2) strategic use of intellectual property and innovative financing to meet public health goals; 3) collaborative norms of open innovation; and 4) alternative business models, some with a double bottom line. Facing such resource constraints, LMICs are poised to develop a new, more resource-effective model of innovation that holds exciting promise in meeting the needs of global health.

Keywords:
Innovation; Technology; Access; Policy; Public health; R&D collaboration; R&D; Business model; Open source; Open innovation