The Economist: An Open-Source Shot in the Arm?
Jun 11, 2004, 19:45 (2 Talkback[s])
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"Can goodwill, aggregated over the internet, produce good
medicine? The current approach to drug discovery works up to a
point, but it is far from perfect. It is costly to develop
medicines and get regulatory approval. The patent system can
foreclose new uses or enhancements by outside researchers. And
there has to be a consumer willing (or able) to pay for the
resulting drugs, in order to justify the cost of drug development.
Pharmaceutical companies have little incentive to develop
treatments for diseases that particularly afflict the poor, for
example, since the people who need such treatments most may not be
able to afford them.
"It is in this environment that a number of medical biologists,
lawyers, entrepreneurs and health-care activists have sought
improvements. They have suggested borrowing the 'open-source'
approach that has proven so successful in another area of
technology, namely software development..."