The Growing Market for Cancer Drugs

In my TED talk on growth and globalization I said:

If China and India were as rich as the United States is today, the market for cancer drugs would be eight times larger than it is now. Now we are not there yet, but it is happening. As other countries become richer the demand for these pharmaceuticals is going to increase tremendously. And that means an increase incentive to do research and development, which benefits everyone in the world. Larger markets increase the incentive to produce all kinds of ideas, whether it’s software, whether it’s a computer chip, whether it’s a new design.

…[T]oday, less than one-tenth of one percent of the world’s population are scientists and engineers. The United States has been an idea leader. A large fraction of those people are in the United States. But the U.S. is losing its idea leadership. And for that I am very grateful. That is a good thing. It is fortunate that we are becoming less of an idea leader because for too long the United States, and a handful of other developed countries, have shouldered the entire burden of research and development. But consider the following: if the world as a whole were as wealthy as the United States is now there would be more than five times as many scientists and engineers contributing to ideas which benefit everyone, which are shared by everyone….We all benefit when another country gets rich.

A recent piece in the FT illustrates:

AstraZeneca’s chief executive returned from a recent trip to China exuberant about an “explosion” of biotech companies in the country and the potential for his business to deliver drugs discovered there to the world….Many drugmakers are tempted by China’s large, ageing population, which is increasingly affected by chronic diseases partly caused by smoking, pollution and more westernised diets….the opportunity lies not just in Chinese patients, but also in the country’s scientists. “The innovation power has changed,” said Demaré. “It is no more ‘copy, paste’. They really have the power to innovate and put all the money in. There’s a lot of start-ups and we are a part of that.”

As I concluded my talk:

Ideas are meant to be shared, one idea can serve the world. One idea, one world, one market.


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