Public-private partnerships in developed countries have done much to increase research into neglected diseases. Several developing countries — such as Brazil, China and India — are also investing more in this area, as shown by the steep rise in numbers of relevant academic papers and patents in these countries.
But if these countries are to sustain the development and distribution of drugs and vaccines for the poor, they must link up in 'networks of innovation', say Carlos Morel, from the Brazil-based Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (also known as FIOCRUZ), and colleagues in this article in Science.
Morel and colleagues give examples of how such networks of public and private partners are being created. The South-South Initiative created in 1991, for example, helps researchers in Africa, Asia and Latin America share resources.
The World Health Organization's Developing Countries' Vaccine Regulators Network set up in 2004 brings together Brazil, China, Cuba, India, Indonesia, Russia, South Africa, South Korea and Thailand.
To be realistic, the authors say, innovation policies must help the economic development of developing countries — by creating jobs and profitable products, for instance — rather than focusing only on national health priorities.
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