Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Open Source in Pharma

Imagine if in the future we can have "Open Source" for pharmaceuticals. Similar to the trend that we have in technology nowadays. Instead of dealing with 10, 20, or 30-year patents, we had a group of scientist that contribute some part of their research for a better cause.

Some of the obstacles for OSPh (Open Source Pharma) is the fact that the research needed to develop medicine is pretty expensive. Not only the beginning stages were everything could almost theorical but also the other stages with government approval (in the U.S. it would be FDA approval). This type of costs differ from the software industry because there is not an entity that approves the softwares that are going to be launch. The market does that job itself. Good software would be sold and bad softwares would be forgotten.

Nevertheless there could be some similarities and maybe some similar catalyst for the existence of OSPh. The biggest catalyst in the software space was the internet. In the case of OSPh the internet would play the same role (shortening distances between collaborators and reducing transaction/communication costs). Additionally there could be other catalyst that could help us obtain a type of OSPh. That catalyst would probably be related to the way the research is performed and documented. In the case of software there are very clear parameters that anybody can follow to write code. In Pharmaceuticals is a little bit different. The reason behind the different research approach is simple: try to find a different way to "cure" the problem.

I believe that in the future would see some guidelines for open research collaboration between scientist. Those guidelines would be the first catalysts for Open Source Pharma.