Written to coincide with publication of the World Health Organisation's report, Genomics and World Health, this editorial opens with issues of ownership and genomics. It points out that most genomics-related patents are owned by the United States, and of the 1233 new drugs marketed between 1975 and 1999, only 13 were approved specifically for tropical diseases.

Aside from the complex scientific and technical problems of bringing genomics to the clinic,  ensuring that its benefits will be reaped by developing countries will require paying attention to many challenges. For example, there are questions over who will pay to test, develop and deliver important vaccines, drugs and diagnostics for diseases of the developing world, and who will ensure equitable access to those who need it most.

The article concludes with a reference to the globalisation of disease, with many poorer countries making the epidemiological transition towards a pattern of disease similar to that of the developed countries. The authors conclude that development of research partnerships between developed and developing countries will not only help to combat the global inequity of health care but will also be of enormous benefit to both parties.


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