Emerging technologies

Biotechnology, Innovation and Health


The links between innovation, productivity, health and wealth are recognised by many countries and the need to encourage innovation is also apparent. Investing in and  encouraging innovation is a priority for many jurisdictions as is the affordability, quality and sustainability of healthcare systems. There is an apparent tension between these  goals that can be mitigated with timely policy development work. The OECD Biotechnology Division is looking into how to encourage and foster innovation which addresses health needs and priorities, maximises access to the benefits, and manages the challenges and risks in a way that is beneficial both to innovators and health systems. The following are projects the Division is currently looking into.


Task Force on Biomedicine and Health Innovation

The Task Force on Biomedicine and Health Innovation developed a synthesis report that presents the main lessons and policy messages that emerge from a number of areas related to innovation in biomedicine, including on: genetics and genomics, intellectual property rights and collaborative mechanisms and knowledge markets, health research infrastructures, translational research, regulatory policies that affect the approval and uptake of new technologies, and new business models for bringing health products to market, etc. It was developed as a thematic contribution to the OECD Innovation Strategy, a comprehensive policy strategy to harness innovation for stronger and more sustainable growth and development, and to address the key societal challenges of the 21st century.


Biomarkers and Targeted Therapies

Scientific advances in biotechnology are ushering in a new era of medicine: targeted therapies and personalised medicine are coming of age. Traditional medicine manages a disease through standard treatments, without taking account of existing variability between individuals or groups of population. Personalised medicine, in contrast, adapts treatments to the profile of each individual. This revolution in biomedicine is due, in large part, to the discovery of biomarkers.


High-Level Forum on Medicines for Infectious Diseases

The agenda for action "The Noordwijk Medicines Agenda" was issued at the OECD High-Level Forum on Policy Coherence: Availability of Medicines for Neglected and Emerging Infectious Diseases, held on 20-21 June 2007 in Noordwijk-aan-zee in the Netherlands. Participants included OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría, high level officials of developed and developing countries and senior representatives from industry, the scientific community, international and non-governmental organisations.



The publication Pharmacogenetics: Opportunities and Challenges for Health Innovation and Care examines the challenges facing pharmacogenetics across the health innovation cycle and into the clinic and reviews the impact to date of pharmacogenetics on both pharmaceutical R&D and clinical care.


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