After nearly 25 years of work involving multi-institution, multi-country collaboration, India last week announced its first locally developed anti-diarrhoea vaccine. Effective against a strain of Rotavirus that causes severe diarrhoea among children under five in India, this vaccine is one of the emerging examples which show how the world in general, and India in particular, needs a different model for developing new therapies. The old model – of pharma companies deciding what and when to develop new drugs – is crumbling.

Bharat Biotech, which owns the intellectual property in Rotavac, has been the industry partner right from the beginning. It has priced the vaccine at $1, a fraction of what the existing Rotavius vaccines in the market today cost. In India GSK and Merck (MSD) sell their brands at upwards of Rs 2000 per course.

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