Commons in the pharma industry?

I was excited to see the following in Peter Suber’s Open Access Blog:

var imagebase=’file://C:/Program Files/FeedReader30/’;

17:54 24/10/2006, Peter Suber, Open Access News
Pfizer is exploring data sharing with Science Commons. There are no details in this interview with David de Graaf of Pfizer’s Research Technology Center, but it’s a promising prospect to watch. Here’s the key passage:

When you encounter a knotty problem or roadblock in terms of your work in systems biology, who do you call among your peers in the industry?
…Everybody keeps running into the same toxicity and we can’t solve it. Actually putting our heads together and, more importantly, putting our data together may be something that’s worthwhile, and we’re exploring that together with the folks at Science Commons right now, as well as the folks at Teranode.

I have argued elsewhere that the current model of pharmaceutical sponsorship depletes the scientific Commons – this is a wonderful opportunity to change the model and enhance it. (I haven’t read the interview – the link seems broken).I used to work in the pharma industry – it is well known that it is very difficult to discover safe and useful drugs. Each company tackles very similar problems to the others and each runs into the same problems. Most drug projects fail. If one company has slightly fewer failures they might count that as a competitive advantage, but if we look at it from the global view of the commons (post)- or the anticommons (post) – of the industry it is still a tragedy.
In some industries (e.g. luxury goods) a failure only costs the shareholders; in pharma it often results in poor or unsafe drugs. The drug companies have to collect safety information (I have worked with WHO on this issue) but much of this is secret. Since it is us who are the test vehicles for new compounds is there not an overwhelming case for making toxicity information public and seeing this as a pre-competitive activity?
This entry was posted in open issues. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Commons in the pharma industry?

  1. Pingback: JK on the blogsJK has been captured by various bloggers -- Centplus Tech

  2. Thanks for posting about this issue.
    What irks me is that the Eli Lilly company’s blockbuster Zyprexa has been implicated in causing TEN times greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
    They then turn around and sell other blockbuster drugs to treat the same diabetes.

    Daniel Haszard

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *