Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Monday, February 12, 2007

Pharma companies provide open data from self-interest

Matthew Herper and Robert Langreth, Biology Goes Open Source, Forbes, February 12, 2007.  (Thanks to Slashdot via Garrett Eastman.)  Excerpt:

Some of the world's biggest drug companies are finding that their genetic research is worth more to them if they give it away.

Novartis, the Basel, Switzerland, drug giant, has helped uncover which of the 20,000 genes identified by the Human Genome Project are likely to be associated with diabetes. But rather than hoard this information, as drug firms have traditionally done, it is making it available for free on the World Wide Web.

"It will take the entire world to interpret these data," says Novartis research head Mark Fishman. "We figure we will benefit more by having a lot of companies look at these data than by holding it secret." ...

There was a time when drug giants tried to keep leads like that to themselves in an attempt to gain an advantage over their competitors. They paid lots of money for the privilege, too....

Novartis isn't the only drug firm embracing this "give it away for free" mentality. Pfizer has promised to make available for free a swath of genetic information emerging from a three-year collaboration with the National Institutes of Health.

For its part, the NIH has suggested making this kind of free access the standard operating procedure for all of its genetic research.