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RATIMED Report Summary

Project ID: 336932
Funded under: FP7-IDEAS-ERC
Country: Austria

Mid-Term Report Summary - RATIMED (Re-Assembling Tibetan Medicine: The formation of a transnational Sowa Rigpa industry in contemporary India, China, Mongolia and Bhutan)

The aim of the RATIMED project is to get a detailed yet broad understanding of the size, shape, and dynamics of the emerging transnational Sowa Rigpa industry in India, China, Mongolia, and Bhutan. In other words, our overall goal is to generate a bigger picture of this previously unexplored industry, which has significant socio-economic, political, public health, and environmental impact in large parts of Asia.
With the completion of the first half of the project, the following achievements can be reported: Project phase 1 (of 4) has been largely completed as planned, which means that we have a good overview of the Sowa Rigpa industry at the national level now. This includes both quantitative data concerning its size and growth in each country (to be published in 2017), and qualitative data on the socio-cultural, political, technological, and public health contexts and factors that shape the industry (much of it already published).
We could identify, examine, and analyze the following common issues as currently shaping the Sowa Rigpa industry in all four countries: 1) a dramatic growth of demand for Sowa Rigpa pharmaceuticals, which in some cases (esp. India) outstrips the supply, 2) government regulations concerning drug registration and pharmaceutical quality control, 3) government and corporate efforts to transform the Sowa Rigpa industry from mainly a domestic public health resource into an export economy, 4) the increasingly tenuous availability of natural raw materials to sustain the growth of the industry, and 5) increasing conflict potential over intellectual and cultural ownership rights over Sowa Rigpa.
These findings substantiate the project hypothesis that the Sowa Rigpa industry is a single transnational phenomenon that consists of four major domains, namely 1) raw materials, 2) pharmaceutical production, innovation, and quality control, 3) the herbal pharmaceutical market, and 4) intellectual property rights. In phase two, which commenced on 01.10.2015 and is currently ongoing, these domains are investigated in detail, in order to better understand the inner workings and development of the Sowa Rigpa industry. This includes focused, shorter-duration fieldwork trips as well as international workshops with experts and stakeholders and targeted analysis of existing data.
So far, a total of 19 publications have come out of the project, generally in top-level journals or publishing houses. These include 10 peer-reviewed journal articles, 5 chapters in edited books, and 4 shorter reports/reviews in peer-reviewed journals. 5 more manuscripts (3 journal articles, 2 book chapters) have been submitted, and 1 monograph, 1 edited volume, and several journal articles are currently in preparation.
Project results have been presented to the international scientific community as well as health professionals and policy makers in a total of 32 international conference presentations or lectures during the reporting period, including 2 keynote speeches, 23 invited papers/lectures, and 7 regular conference papers. 4 international symposia/ workshops/ conference panels were organized by RATIMED.
The project and its results are presented to wider audiences through an elaborate website (, which received some 15,000 page views by about 8000 new visitors from 61 countries during the first half of the project. Furthermore, 12 newspaper articles, 5 blog reports, 3 public project presentations, 2 round table discussions, 2 TV interviews, and 1 radio interview covered the RATIMED project and its results.

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