The nature of Asian biopharmaceutical innovation

Asian biotechnology innovation

Asian biotechnology innovation

My paper on global biopharmaceutical productivity has been published in the latest issue of Nature Biotechnology.

This paper is a refinement of my work ranking international biotechnology for Scientific American Worldview, and draws on the DrugPatentWatch database.

In this paper I investigate the locations of drug inventors, as measured by patents covering marketed drugs. The result, which may surprise many readers, is that the bulk of the innovation still occurs in the legacy pharma regions — Western Europe, the United States, and Japan.

I have many thoughts on why larger Asian countries like India, South Korea, and China demonstrate little innovation in biopharmaceuticals (and I’ve expressed these views at length in my talks, and here and here), and I have also published prescriptions for smaller nations.

Given the poor output of patents covering marketed drugs from countries such as China, one must ask whether vigorous pro-patenting policies (China leads the world in patent applications — but not in grants) are appropriate. Additionally, one must ask if Western metrics for innovation should be applied to other contexts.

To access the full paper (paywall), see

For more information on the DrugPatentWatch database, see

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