Pharma Focus Asia

Local Production Of Pharmaceuticals And Related Technology Transfer In Developing Countries


As stakeholders in the Global Strategy and Plan of Action on Public Health, Innovation and Intellectual Property (GSPA-PHI) adopted by the World Health Assembly in 2008,1 the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD) are collaborating on a project funded by the European Union (EU) to identify the main challenges and obstacles to local production in developing countries, with particular reference to technology transfer issues, and providing evidence- based recommendations on their feasibility and sustainability. As part of its contribution to this project, UNCTAD was responsible for undertaking this series of case studies designed to examine the transfer of technology and local production of pharmaceuticals in different regions, highlighting different characteristics such as firm structure, the means by which local producers obtained and developed the technological capacity to produce medicines, and the types of product handled, among others.

The case studies complement other activities of WHO and ICTSD under this project, which include a stakeholder analysis, regional dialogues and a trends survey, with a view to identifying perceived obstacles to acquiring and developing technology, enabling local production and identifying means to overcoming these obstacles.

This series of case studies also complements UNCTAD’s ongoing work in the areas of technology transfer, investment and local pharmaceutical production. The case studies make an important contribution to a recommendation by UNCTAD’s Commission on Investment, Technology and Related Financial Issues. This recommendation states that UNCTAD should, within its work programme on investment, technology, transfer and intellectual property, assess ways in which developing countries can develop their domestic productive capability in the supply of essential drugs in cooperation with pharmaceutical companies.  By giving concrete examples of successful technology transfer initiatives in the area of pharmaceutical production, the case studies provide a number of important lessons for policy-makers and other stakeholders in both developing and developed countries on issues of investment, science, technology and innovation, and intellectual property rights.

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