While both India and Brazil are seriously affected by the HIV/AIDS epidemic, each country has chosen a different approach to providing affordable pharmaceutical treatment. Whereas the Indian government has paved the way for market-driven solutions, Brazilian public authorities are strongly involved in the research and production of HIV/AIDS medication. Brazilian regulations permit comprehensive and free provision of HIV/AIDS drugs, whereas the majority of the affected population in India does not receive adequate pharmaceutical treatment. To explain the different policy outputs, we draw on the developmental state literature. Efficient decisionmaking structures, a devoted bureaucracy, and effective policy instruments enable public authorities to provide public goods even in the context of relative scarcity. We show that the assumptions of developmental state theory have to be complemented by the assessment of civil society actors' potential to trigger governmental interventions in the market.