Open Source Supports Open Pharma

From my recent reading of the articles listed below, it appears open pharma is gaining momentum in the industry. I know this is only scratching the surface of all the amazing projects taking place globally.

The journey has been several years in making. In Big Pharma's Road to Enlight(enment), reported the formation in 2008 of a cooperative alliance among Merck, Pfizer, and Eli Lilly. While this venture attracts further investment from other firms, other organizations are collaborating in more open forums.

Just recently Pfizer gaind FDA approval for an all-electronic clinical trial with patients reporting from home or remote locations to the clinics. Pfizer relied on open-source software tools acknowledging, "It's hardly Phizer's technology."  Stephen Denning, in the Forbes article, Memo to Merck: Rethink Big Pharma! points out the declining stock prices of Merck, GlaxoSimthKline makes the case for minimizing the redundancy embedded in the traditional methods of pharmaceutical drug development. Clearly, the drug R&D process needs to change; and, change is here!

There are two common premises these articles point out. First, many costs are redundant among the big pharma companies and it is better to collaborate and share costs early in the research process. A good portion of these cost come in the form of IT investment in the hardware and software used to analyze data. Open-source analytical tools are enabling these costs to be shared collectively. 

Second, the article, Collaboration Limits? Ernie Bush argues a great deal of redundancy exists during the clinical trial period. By sharing data during this phase through open-source tools and open-processes greater conference can be gained for the collaborating organizations. This approach uses a shared risk model where larger projects can be tackled with shared risk.

Open-source software solutions and open-models drug R&D have the potential to transform the market by reducing costs and increasing time to market for drug approval. I believe this will greatly increase  the spectrum of drugs being brought to market. Pharmaceutical firms must embrace now more collaboration and disruptive technology to prosper in the future.