Increasing numbers of Americans and Europeans are heading to Bangalore and other distant locales for various surgeries. Still other medical tourists are seeking treatments not legally approved at home, such as cancer and stem cell treatments.

Medical tourism has grown to significant scale in just a few years, and is projected to continue growing sharply according to studies by the World Bank, McKinsey & Company consulting firm in conjunction with the government of India, and others. During 2004 alone, Thailand received more than one million medical tourists from Australia, Europe, and the United States. The flow of medical tourists into India tripled from 2002 to 2005 and is projected to rise six-fold in the next five to seven years. Medical tourism is rapidly creating opportunities that biotech companies and investors should be factoring into their planning.

For starters, US biotech companies need to rethink their intellectual property (IP) strategies. Biotech...

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