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Phone : +33 1 49 58 33 86

Editorial director : Laurent Pordié

Creator & Webmaster : Karine Gay

Web hosting : CNRS

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The PharmAsia Network is administered by the Center for Research on Science, Medicine, Health and Society (Cermes3) in logo-cermes3Paris, a joint unit of the CNRS, EHESS, Inserm and the University of Paris Descartes. One of the biggest research units in Europe on the recent reconfiguration of the relations between science, medicine and society, the Cermes3 explores from an interdisciplinary angle a number of key themes such as pharmaceutical innovation, cancer and clinical practices, the history of psychiatry, drug addictions, the history and sociology of medicines, or again handicap. The PharmAsia Network feeds the Center's research axis "Innovation, Globalization and Politicization".


Our institutional and funding partners include:

EASTmedicine  Research Center, London

EASTmedicine (East Asian Sciences and Traditions in Medicine) is a unique interdisciplinary research centre located at the University of Westminster in London, which seeks to understand the development and transformation of East Asian medicines from their origins in pre-Han China to the present. To this end, we draw on the medical humanities, the social and life sciences, epidemiology and clinical research, as well as education and clinical practice. We aim to carry out innovative world-class research that breaks new ground in our understanding of East Asian medicines.

Center for South Asian Studies, Paris

Established in the mid-1950s by Louis Dumont, the Centre for South Asian Studies (CEIAS) is the largest French research institutlogo-ceiase in social sciences dealing with the Indian subcontinent. It is a joint research unit of the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales and the French National Center for Scientific research (CNRS). The center brings together specialists from various discplinary backgrounds and intellectual approaches working on common themes and problematics in order to shed new light in the social study of South Asia. 

Research Center on Modern and Contemporary China, ParisCECMC

Founded in 1996, the Research Center on Modern and Contemporary China (CECMC) is a research center of the joint research unit UMR 8173 (China, Korea, Japan) placed under the tutelage of the National Center for Scientific Research and the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in Paris. Ever careful to adhere to a strict interdisciplinary perspective, the CECMC's own approach to China is based above all on primary sources and fieldwork. This approach can be described as the deployment of the social sciences from the contemporary scene to the furthest reaches of history, the two dimensions being complementary.


Our network of related research and like-minded projects include: 


Ratimed logoReassembling Tibetan Medicine, or Ratimed, is a large-scale interdisciplinary research project funded by the European Research Council (ERC). Its aim is to generate a bigger picture – and thus a better understanding – of the transnational Sowa Rigpa industry. The project is based in Vienna at the Institute for Social Anthropology (ISA) of the Austrian Academy of Sciences.


Globhealth logoThe ERC-funded GLOBHEALTH project aims at a socio-historical study of the transition between the two regimes of knowledge and action, namely international public health and global health. The project seeks to understand this transition in terms of globalization processes, looking at the making of knowledge, the production and commercialization of health goods, the implementation of public health programs, and routine medical work. It is based at the Cermes3 in Paris.



Institutional address

Pharmasia Network
Campus CNRS
7, rue Guy Moquet
94800 Villejuif



Laurent Pordié (CNRS - Cermes 3)
Email: laurent.pordie(at)


Local Knowledge, Market Construction and Globalization : Two Modes of Pharma Innovation in the Global South (PHARMASUD)


From 2009 to mid-2013 this programme explored modes of production, mobilization and transfer of knowledge associated with the invention of new drugs in two countries of the global South – Brazil and India. In Brazil, the project has studied study a "regime of copy" associated with the making of generics. This system was initially set up by the Brazilian state in order to fight the Aids epidemics ; it is now extended to other neglected disorders. In India, the project focused on a "reformulation regime" applied to traditional Indian medicines to industrialize and export plant and other complex preparations used against chronic rather than infectious diseases.

aThe programme investigated this dynamic of knowledge production at different scales combining the local and the global. While studies of pharmaceutical innovation in the South have focused on question of knowledge transfer and technological dependency, we have investigated models that have emerged in the South and represent alternatives to both the postwar chemical culture of screening and the patent system of appropriation. Both models create local knowledge in response to global constrains ; both contribute to the emergence of global markets and of new international regulation of drugs quality and intellectual property. Pharmasud has analysed the differences between these regimes as well as their internal tensions. While the regime of copy developed in Brazil reproduces classical molecular knowledge in a state-based public health context, the regime of reformulation observed in India industrializes preparations originating in indigenous medical systems through a complex interplay with biomedicine.

The programme, funded by the French National Research Agency, involved the Cermes3 in Paris and the French Institute of Pondicherry and was coordinated by Maurice Cassier (P.I.) and Laurent Pordié (Co-P.I., in charge of the Indian chapter).

The success and originality of this programme in the study of Indian traditions have prompted us to expand its approach (while rethinking it) to the Asian region at large. These developments led to the creation of PharmAsia.


Exploring Asian Industrial Medicine


PharmAsia is an international social sciences research network dedicated to the study of herbal pharmaceutical industry in Asia. In spite of the remarkable growth of this industry in the last two decades, little attention has been given to it from either history or anthropology. Our multidisciplinary research group aims at framing this important domain of study.

Established in 2012, PharmAsia explores the complex interface between globalization and innovation processes, regulatory systems and market construction in a region playing an ever greater role in the pharmaceutical sector and more broadly, in the global economy and its regulation. Our current sites of research are located in India, China, Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, Cambodia and Indonesia.

How do we create new "traditional" Asian drugs that target the biomedically-defined disorders of a global clientele? How does this (medical-)transcultural process translate epistemologically? What are the implications in terms of market construction and appropriation and protection of innovations? PharmAsia attempts to provide empirical and theoretical perspectives to these problems, and others, by mobilizing scientists ranging from textual specialists to historian of science and medicine, social and medical anthropologists, scholars in science and technology studies, political scientists, legal specialists, and economists.

02Research is organized along five main axis:

* Innovation and drug discovery

* Regimes of intellectual property protection

* Industrial mass production

* Diffusion and marketing

* Consumption

PharmAsia organizes conferences and seminars (France, Macao, Holland, Singapore, Korea, U.K.), produces collective publications and encourages the institutional exchange of scholars with the aim to set out new research avenues to study the industrialization of Asian medicine.



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