Innovation in India

[via WorldChanging] Science Magazine has an essay by Raghunath A. Mashelkar, director general of the Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR), a chain of 38 publicly funded industrial R&D institutions in India:

India can similarly become an innovation hub for global health. Its reputation as a low-cost manufacturer of high-quality generic drugs already is high. Now discovery, development, and delivery of new drugs to the poor is another area in which India is becoming stronger. By following alternative paths rather than beaten ones, India is aiming to develop drugs at prices that are more affordable to more of the world’s people. For instance, India is trying to build a golden triangle between traditional medicine, modern medicine, and modern science. By culling clues from traditional medical practices, researchers here are doing a sort of “reverse pharmacology,” which is showing great promise. Our recent program on developing a treatment for psoriasis through a reverse pharmacology path (presently in phase II human clinical trials) is expected to take 5 years and cost $5 million. If successful, the resulting treatment will be priced at $50, quite a step down from a new $20,000 antibody injection treatment developed by a western biopharmaceutical company! The opportunities that are unfolding are breathtaking.

As I see it from my perch in India’s science and technology leadership, if India plays its cards right, it can become by 2020 the world’s number-one knowledge production center, creating not only valuable private goods but also much needed public goods that will help the growing global population suffer less and live better.

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.