Open sourcing pharmaceuticals

What will those crazy open sourcerors think of next? :-)

If there's any industry that likely thinks itself immune from open source, it's the pharmaceutical industry. Laden with heavy research and development costs, how can the industry essentially give away its products and still earn a decent return?

A new organization, Farmavita.net, thinks that it can be done. The goal is to free up all the intellectual property that isn't actively being used by pharmaceutical organizations:

Farmavita.Net has recently started the project named "Farmavita.Net - Open Source Pharmaceuticals". The project is targeted to development of sharing of know-how for manufacture of essential and life saving medicines. It is mainly dedicated to the countries with less developed economies where local pharmaceutical production is insufficient for national needs.

It will be limited to generic medicines with established use. By the definition, medicinal product have a "well-established use" if is used for at least 15 years, with recognized efficacy and an acceptable level of safety. In that event, the expensive clinical test and trial results could be replaced by appropriate scientific literature. Beside safety of medicine, it is also important that risk of third party patent infringement is minimized with such older products.

I imagine this won't be welcome news to Merck, Johnson & Johnson, etc. But if it succeeds then these established pharmaceutical companies will simply learn to adapt much as the enterprise software vendors have. Regardless, if it ends up helping the end users of the drugs, who cares what the incumbent vendors say?

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About the author

    Matt Asay is chief operating officer at Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu Linux operating system. Prior to Canonical, Matt was general manager of the Americas division and vice president of business development at Alfresco, an open-source applications company. Matt brings a decade of in-the-trenches open-source business and legal experience to The Open Road, with an emphasis on emerging open-source business strategies and opportunities. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CNET. You can follow Matt on Twitter @mjasay.

     

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