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"Open-Source" Biotechnology and Pharmaceuticals?

By Pow.R Toc.H in News
Fri Feb 25, 2000 at 02:46:52 PM EST
Tags: Technology (all tags)
Technology

There's an increasing discussion in Brazil about the power of the pharmaceutical industry. Nowadays they are a real monopoly from which nobody can escape, as people need medication when they get sick. On the other hand, companies are taking as theirs knowledge that has been transmitted generation after generation through the years. In light of these facts do you know about any "Open Source" initiative in biotechnology and pharmaceutical technology?


There's an increasing discussion in Brazil about the power of the pharmaceutical industry. Even without inflation and taking into account the nearly 50% devaluation of the brazilian currency last year, these industries have raised their prices in up to 400% in some cases. Nowadays they are a real monopoly from which nobody can escape, as people need medication when they get sick. On the other hand, issues like the patenting of insects, vegetables and even natural substances taken from nature, and based on rainflorest's inhabitants knowledge, are yet to be discussed here, and I fear that it might be too late to prevent companies from taking as theirs a knowledge that has been transmitted generation after generation through the years. So I ask all my kuro5hin companions: do you know of any "Open Source" initiative in biotechnology and pharmaceutical technology? If there are, what are they and how do they get their funding? If there aren't, what's the probability of such an initiative to be as successful as Open Source Software? What are the potential problems of such a development?

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"Open-Source" Biotechnology and Pharmaceuticals? | 8 comments (8 topical, editorial, 0 hidden)
All knowledge should be public doma... (none / 0) (#2)
by bmetzler on Fri Feb 25, 2000 at 01:31:21 PM EST

bmetzler voted 1 on this story.

All knowledge should be public domain. Okay, things that are common should remain in public domain. Well, things in public domain should stay as public domain...
www.bmetzler.org - it's not just a personal weblog, it's so much more.

It would be very noble to "open-sou... (none / 0) (#1)
by joeyo on Fri Feb 25, 2000 at 02:06:03 PM EST

joeyo voted 1 on this story.

It would be very noble to "open-source" a biotech or pharmaceutical product. This would be very much in keeping with the way scientific research is/was done. Any discoveries were basically put into the public domain, or at worst, your parent institution got the rights to it.

However, these days the trend seems to be to patent it, sell the rights to a company, and retire.

Oooh, here is a broader question, is there a copyleft that can be applied to patents???

--
"Give me enough variables to work with, and I can probably do away with the notion of human free will." -- demi

To be honest the only way I can ima... (none / 0) (#3)
by kraant on Fri Feb 25, 2000 at 02:46:52 PM EST

kraant voted 1 on this story.

To be honest the only way I can imagine open source
medicine is by governments insisting that any medical
advances made by Public Education like Universities
are open sourced...

Either that or charities supporting labs...

I can't think of any way of putting any kind of copyleft on the
Perhaps the patents made only allow people to use those patents if they release all of _their_ patents under the same conditions...
Of course patenting is hellishly expensive... :(
--
"kraant, open source guru" -- tumeric
Never In Our Names...

Re: To be honest the only way I can ima... (none / 0) (#4)
by rusty on Fri Feb 25, 2000 at 02:53:34 PM EST

What about an "open medical patent" initiative, as is sometimes seen in the OSS world. Basically a group that patents medical advances for the specific purpose of licensing them for free to anyone. I think using the patent system against itself in areas where it might be harmful is probably the best way to deal with it, barring total reform and rethinking. Are there any groups considering this? This is a big issue in genetic research too, from what I hear.

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
Re: To be honest the only way I can ima... (none / 0) (#7)
by Nyarlathotep on Fri Feb 25, 2000 at 05:43:20 PM EST

What about an "open medical patent" initiative,

This is considered prohibitivly expencive by many in the OSS world for software patents.. and it would be MUCH more expencive when you actually need to spend a crap load of money doing research.

The only real way that somehitng like this is going to work would be for the NSF to descide that Universities should contain partial control over their research results, i.e. currently pharmasuticals company A gives a university B a grant to study X with the restriction that A has the right to use any patents which come out of the research, but under my proposal the NSF (or a Law) says B can take back A's rights to use the patent if A dose something bad with it. This would mean we could protest/sue at some universities and get some of the patents which are critical to the terminator genes stuff yanked back from the companies who are selling seeds with these terminator genes. it would also mean Brazilians could protest/sue for the right to produce the drugs themselves when American drug companies mallishiously raise prices. The general idea would be to have the NSF lay out some guidlines to make shure that their were recourses (protesting the university, suinmg the company) when the discoveries of researchers work at a university were abused.

This is not a bad soltuon, but a much better solution would be for other countries, like Brazil, who are basically enslaved to American intelectual property to just experement with not having any intelectual property.. or at least have less. I mean seriously these are countries, so if a lot of them just say fuck you to the drug companies the problem goes away. This is a better solution for us Americans becuase it means our companies will learn how to make moeny without intelectual property.

Campus Crusade for Cthulhu -- it found me!
[ Parent ]
Re: To be honest the only way I can ima... (none / 0) (#8)
by Anonymous Hero on Sat Feb 26, 2000 at 05:20:20 PM EST

"This is a better solution for us Americans becuase it means our companies will learn how to make money without intelectual property. "



I don't think so. It gives the US drug companies to charge US customers even more money.

[ Parent ]
Re: "Open-Source" Biotechnology and Pharmaceutical (none / 0) (#5)
by Strider on Fri Feb 25, 2000 at 04:21:31 PM EST

I believe that the pharmaceutical industry is well acquainted with open sores. In fact, there's probably legions of information on the subject. There's so much information it would probably make you sick.

Sorry for the puns, those responsible have been sacked.

I'm just a fun-gi.
---
"it's like having gravity suddenly replaced by cheez-whiz" - rusty
Re: "Open-Source" Biotechnology and Pharmaceutical (none / 0) (#6)
by rusty on Fri Feb 25, 2000 at 05:41:27 PM EST

I'm just a fun-gi.

We apologize for the last pun. Those responsible for sacking those responsible for the first puns, have been sacked.

And now for something completely different.

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

"Open-Source" Biotechnology and Pharmaceuticals? | 8 comments (8 topical, 0 editorial, 0 hidden)
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