This article provides an introduction to the problem of pharmaceutical research and development of medicinal products for neglected diseases in developing countries. The prevailing market-based intellectual property incentive model of global pharmaceutical innovation has focussed health research priorities mainly on needs of industrialized countries. Increased international attention to the lack of health tools to prevent or treat diseases affecting impoverished regions has raised the discussion on how to encourage sustainable innovation in this area with little or no market. Proposals include models such as for example prize funds, advanced purchase commitments patent pools or creative licensing strategies and seek to complement the current intellectual property based incentive mechanism and government's innovation policy instruments such as tax credits or public research funds. Indispensable requirement to tackle the issue of neglected diseases, however, is a concerted commitment of all stakeholders on national and international levels.