Intended for healthcare professionals


Targeted health innovation for global health

BMJ 2019; 366 doi: (Published 20 September 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;366:l5601
  1. John-Arne Røttingen, chief executive1,
  2. Jeremy Farrar, director2
  1. 1Research Council of Norway, Oslo, Norway
  2. 2Wellcome Trust, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to: J-A Røttingen jro{at}

New WHO database will help tackle health problems in low and middle income countries

Healthcare innovation and product development are currently happening at an unprecedented speed. New insights and ideas lead to new approaches to preventing, diagnosing, and treating disease and to how we deliver healthcare and promote health. Traditionally, the public sector has invested in open knowledge generation and the private sector in product development protected by intellectual property rights. In general, this has worked reasonably well, and new medicines are brought to market where there are clear signals of demand and an ability and willingness to pay for the innovation.

For this innovation model to work, however, there must be an expected market demand. When populations have low purchasing power, their health needs do not translate into demand. This is the crux of the problem of insufficient product development for global health, and it means that public and philanthropic bodies have had to take a more prominent …

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