Winds of Open Innovation in Pharma R&D Blow to Clinical 8

It was a pleasure to present at the Open Innovation in Pharmaceutical R&D conference last week in Amsterdam.  What strikes me in conferences like this is the diversity of ways open innovation is manifested.  While some seem to criticize that “everything is now open innovation”, I’ve come to appreciate the diversity.  To me it isn’t about what it is called, but rather what it accomplishes.

While diversity of approaches exist, it still seems to me that the focus of OI in pharma R&D remains in research, not development.  As I outline in my presentation, I believe there is not only a position for OI in development but an essential need to change, and yes, disrupt our business model.  Contrary to gut reactions, this is NOT a challenge to the current IP/patent centric model.  In fact, it depends on clear IP and the patent foundation coming into clinical development provides a clear platform on which OI can operate. In the same manner, clear commons licensing enables collaborative interaction around public information.

Ours is a strategy of raising all boats and helping transform the industry models of clinical development.  We welcome the diversity of ideas and implementation models.  For it won’t be one company, one model, or one frame of reference that will change our current, well-entrenched business model.  It will be through creative, collaborative efforts that new models for development emerge.  This is why we think of our work as a series of experiments or projects.  Have ideas and an interest  in working with us?  Drop us a note and let’s figure out how we can be complementary.  The patient is waiting.


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  2. Have posted this post to Innovation in Pharma group on LinkedIn, for comment. I have written about this before (and spoke about it at the same conference as Tom in SF in January). Way too much focus in pharma is on innovating R (or getting sales reps new iPads) instead of D…

    • Yes, there’s lots of space between discovery research and the sales force where open innovation can make a real difference. Bringing more data related to clinical processes open and useful is a start, and beginning to think about core clinical development processes like trial design, site selection, protocol development, enrollment, et al are areas ripe for optimization through OI techniques – and where core IP can be managed responsibly. Any specific areas or ideas you might share are welcomed, and thanks for dropping a comment.

      • We’ll put our presentation from SF live soon, but the point of it was that a) getting the basics right will be a great start (that is, combining ‘the value proposition’ as the thing that we’re looking at in development), and b) that proper design of D will be both more effective and more efficient. Some of these are not ‘innovations’ per se, but unlearning the kind of sclerotic bulk/ process that has characterised the past 10 or so years… If some companies are spending $12bn per launched drug in development, something is going wrong…

    • We are currently testing our Open API for Clinical Trials. This is a REST API with JSON responses. We are targeting early June for the public release. We will announce it on Twitter and this blog, so stay tuned!

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