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August 3, 2005

Medicine with Open Source twist

What if Open Source methods were applied to medicine discovery? It seems that major breakthrough medicines are stifled due to the hundreds of obscure patents that essentially force smaller pharmaceutical companies to scuttle essential research for possible cures to diseases like cancer.

I have already discussed in great detail the evils of improper patents and the litigous nature of software development, but let us take a moment to reflect on the harm that has already occured due to the inability for small companies to compete with huge Tier I pharmaceutical companies (ie Merck, Pfizer, and Lilley), as they do not have the huge litigation warchest required to protect against the inevitable patent violations.

Additionally, there is are many tropical diseases that are not likely to be cured because much of the research would need to be funded by mainstream companies. The irony is that the people of these more 'civilized' nations make up the majority population, and if allowed to be innovative their discoveries could significantly benefit their mainstream neighbors.

Proponents of this method of research, assert that open source would help level the playing field for developing nations, and help erradicate the stonewalling and corruption that often prevents necessary cures from becoming reality.

For those who are interested, the upcoming feature film, The Constant Gardener, addresses some of these concepts. While it doesn't specifically call into question, open source strategies, it does focus on corruption that leads to manipulations of 'so-called' developing nations.

OnTheCommons.org | Open Source Biomedicine

Posted by AG at August 3, 2005 10:25 AM