Affordable medicine and open science. Fresh air
The right to access existent drug products at a reasonable price is a traditional demand in developing countries and is about to be achieved, at least partially, through three complementary but different ways.
The industry cooperates and donates
Invited by Bill Gates, the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world have reached an agreement to share their research in order to eradicate forgotten tropical illnesses. They have also agreed to increase significantly the donations of medicine products that cure obsolete illnesses in the West. Bravo! Thank you.
The (Indian) State regulates
Nexavar, a drug for kidney and liver cancer patented by Bayer will be produced in India under the name of Sorafenat by the local business Natco Pharma. The Indian patent law allows local industry manufacturing if, after three years since launch, the drug is not accessible for the general citizenship at an “affordable” price.
The monthly treatment for a patient cost 4,000€ with Bayer’s drug product. The generic alternative will be available for a fraction of that price: 134€/month. 29 times less.
This means that over a 95% of the product’s price does not directly correspond to production costs. Instead, this amount includes R&D, marketing, financial and structure costs. Bayer offered it’s medicine for 475€ to certified sick patients. The authorized business will pay a 6% of sales in royalties. A necessary exception. Applicable everywhere else? Sustainable?
The active professor Dr. Matt Todd of the School of Chemistry at Sydney’s University has developed a methodology for open research that already has showed results: an alternative way for low cost production of a medicine that threats Bilharzia, a parasitic sickness which affects millions of people who do not have access to clean water sanitation systems.
“The challenge was that the medicine had to be produced at a very low cost and that was a challenge that academia was not going to solve”, states Todd. So he tried something different: he openly published his lab notes online while he advanced in his research and this proved to be crucial in the process.
In may he begins – with Australian government funding for three years – an open research project to find a feasible treatment against malaria using worldwide scientists that share live time results without worrying about patents. He believes that open science can achieve significant discoveries in the initial phases, before clinical trials. Free, without pardon or permission, for all.
Open as well for existent business for collaboration, investment or cost reduction. Inspiration to redefine their strategy and activities. Energy to to impulse new business models and new structures based on the common resource. Fresh air.