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Glaxo Open Sources Malaria Drug Search Data

samzenpus posted more than 4 years ago | from the free-as-a-mosquito dept.

Medicine 80

smellsofbikes writes "GlaxoSmithKline, the world's second-largest pharmaceutical company, is putting thousands of possible malaria-treating drugs into the public domain in a move that the Wall Street Journal calls a 'Linux approach' to pharmaceutical screening. Andrew Witty, who is described as the boss of GSK, says the company thinks it is 'imperative to earn the trust of society, not just by meeting expectations but by exceeding them.' Of course, synthesis or discovery of new chemicals is cheap compared to efficacy and qualification studies, but this is a refreshing change from not handing out any information until after everything is patented."

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Start of something (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32356470)

I hope, sincerely, that this is the start of more collaborative efforts on the part of drug companies. We're quick to bash them but I believe we should applaud this effort.

Re:Start of something (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32356620)

I'll be cautiously, quietly applauding from a far corner, until I can figure out what exactly their ulterior motives are. They want my trust, and this is a good first step, but boy-oh-boy do they have an uphill battle before them.

Re:Start of something (5, Insightful)

shipbrick (929823) | more than 4 years ago | (#32356634)

I agree, we should take the facts and be thankful. Whatever their true motives, we do not know (perhaps they just don't think they'll ever profit from malaria drugs, etc). We'll see how many negative comments regarding this are posted... But before that happens, I'd advise readers to always be skeptical, but never cynical.

Re:Start of something (2, Interesting)

somenickname (1270442) | more than 4 years ago | (#32357196)

(perhaps they just don't think they'll ever profit from malaria drugs, etc)

And there you have it. Most of the countries where Malaria is prevalent are not rich countries. However, most people have heard the word Malaria and, even if they don't know what it is or how you get it, this announcement sounds impressive to them. Dengue Fever is also common in many of the areas of the world where Malaria is but they aren't releasing that research. Why? Because no one has heard of it so it's not an effective PR stunt.

Re:Start of something (3, Informative)

grcumb (781340) | more than 4 years ago | (#32357860)

(perhaps they just don't think they'll ever profit from malaria drugs, etc)

And there you have it. Most of the countries where Malaria is prevalent are not rich countries. However, most people have heard the word Malaria and, even if they don't know what it is or how you get it, this announcement sounds impressive to them. Dengue Fever is also common in many of the areas of the world where Malaria is but they aren't releasing that research. Why? Because no one has heard of it so it's not an effective PR stunt.

The other reason for not releasing research on Dengue is that there is currently no treatment available whatsoever (unless you count liquids and Panadol to reduce the fever).

Being the first company to provide a viable treatment is a very attractive prospect. I know this because I just got over a bout of Dengue a couple of months ago, and I would have paid really good money for a treatment. In fact, when I was waiting for my blood test results, I quietly prayed that I had malaria, because although it's a bitch, with treatment it's over quickly. Dengue just has to run its course.

So yes: No profit from malaria? Open source it. Big profit from Dengue? Keep your cards to your chest.

Re:Start of something (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32358386)

Not only that, we ran out of niggers here in the north to test that shit, so let the other niggers get the info to try and fail while we focus on diseases white people have.

Remember that the oil spill is only bad if you don't think in how many niggers are going to starve there in the south.

Re:Start of something (3, Interesting)

PDoc (841773) | more than 4 years ago | (#32359028)

Speaking from the inside of a large pharma company, I can tell you that there is currently *a lot* of interest in Dengue. Several of the biggest drug-companies are beginning programmes aimed at Dengue, and funding bodies are proposing collaborative efforts. It's a (very) long way from a viable treatment, but the people at the top can see the money now... which helps.

Re:Start of something (1)

Luyseyal (3154) | more than 4 years ago | (#32377760)

I wonder if these guys [worldcommunitygrid.org] will succeed first...

-l

Re:Start of something (2, Insightful)

hjf (703092) | more than 4 years ago | (#32357954)

greetings from Chaco, Argentina [wikipedia.org] , where we've been having dengue outbreaks lately (a couple of times a year there's a day when government asks you to go into your backyard (you can refuse, of course) to check if you have anything where mosquitos could reproduce -- tires, jars, etc. it's more about teaching the poor people.
we've also had city-wide fumigations (according to my neighbor, who does that for a living, it's pretty much useless). but it's kinda fun looking at the trucks with speakers yelling that this is good for us, open the doors and windows, let the poison in (!), spraying everything, and that weird, heavy mist that floats just above the ground... it's like a movie.

also, you forgot to mention Chagas disease.

but now seriously, last year we had the Influenza A "outbreak" when everybody panicked and said the government isnt doing anything to protect us... so this year they spent a couple of hundreds of millions for the vaccine. but today no one remembers (or cares) about Influenza A.

so in short, some countries are willing to spend lots of money if they make a good enough PR stunt. so i still wonder why they're releasing all this data. maybe it's too old? maybe it's nearly useless? I mean we have the diseases here. we do (believe or not) have R&D and all. I mean we're a country with nuclear research. We build and sell nuclear reactors to Australia, and we have our own sources of nuclear fuel (still wonder why the US lets us do that. of course we don't have their permission to use that for weapons), really, I was surprised with this news.

Re:Start of something (2, Insightful)

somenickname (1270442) | more than 4 years ago | (#32358142)

Interestingly enough, my knowledge of Dengue only comes from living in Argentina for the last 10 years and remembering it being big in the papers a year or two ago before I left. The reason that millions of dollars can be appropriated to treat something like Influenza A is that a vaccine exists. And it exists because it also affects rich countries that can shell out enough money to make the R&D worth the investment.

Re:Start of something (1)

Inda (580031) | more than 4 years ago | (#32360702)

also, you forgot to mention Chagas disease.

If you want people to remember it, you should define its pronunciation.

It is pronounced: Shaggers disease :-)

Re:Start of something (1)

PDoc (841773) | more than 4 years ago | (#32359062)

I hate to agree with this (as a cheaper-than-a-robot-scientist within pharma), but it's probably true. GSK have had a load of bad press in the UK over the last few years, mostly due to enormous lay-offs and site closures, so a bit of good PR is appealing. However, their competitors could have done likewise with malaria or other programmes and didn't - they'd rather sit on the (fairly useless) data, so I'm actually fairly impressed. The interesting bit is to follow, though; if a university or NFP institute find something useful, will GSK assist in any way?

Drug leads are cheap. this profits glaxo (5, Interesting)

goombah99 (560566) | more than 4 years ago | (#32357610)

Drug leads are cheap compared to developing a drug. A friend worked at a drug lead company. They got bought by a big pharma. Within 2 years they had produced more drug leads than the pharma could validate in the next decade. So the pharma sold off the company.

Glaxco is no doubt saturated with drug leads too. According to Merk is takes about 400 million dollars to walk one drug all the way through clinical trials. So there's a perpetual winnowing process at every stage with plenty of candidates to step in when an advanced compound is eliminated from further study.

If you sell your drug lead company who do you think buys it? the competition. SO it's not like open sourcing something gives your competition something they could not get otherwise.

Instead it just makes everything more efficient. The only reason for them to sit on those compounds would be if they simply wanted to prevent other from making them out of fear they might compete with their own,but having no intention of perusing them. Which would be pretty shitty business. It does happen of course (Monsanto is often accused of this.).

So Glaxo is being brave and doing the right thing. But it's not costing them anything except possibly competition if one of those abandoned leads turns out to be the one.

Now here' the twist:
Ironically, by opening it up they maybe doing more to supress this compound than if they had kept quiet. The reason is, it's now unpatentable. What other company would invest in it?

Thus short of government development of these. opening it up kills it's further development more effectively than saying nothing.

Re:Drug leads are cheap. this profits glaxo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32360040)

Advanced Life Sciences Announces Restanza(TM) Shows Efficacy Against Malaria
Advanced Life Sciences Announces Restanza(TM) Shows Efficacy Against Malaria
Preclinical Results Show Greater Efficacy than Standard of Care Antibiotic

May 26, 2010 (PR Newswire) --

CHICAGO, May 26 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Advanced Life Sciences Holdings, Inc. (OTC Bulletin Board: ADLS), a biopharmaceutical company engaged in the discovery, development and commercialization of novel drugs in the therapeutic areas of infection, oncology and respiratory diseases, today announced positive results from in vitro and in vivo studies assessing the efficacy of Restanza (cethromycin), its novel oral antibiotic, against the species of Plasmodium that cause malaria. In the in vitro study comparing Restanza to azithromycin, Restanza showed two to ten-fold greater efficacy against Plasmodium falciparum with the IC50 and IC90 levels, respectively, ranging from 0.2 to 2.7 and 0.6 to 6.2 ug/mL, regardless of chloroquine susceptibility. Most notably, in the in vivo study, Restanza showed 100% efficacy in treating mice infected with Plasmodium berghei and was approximately three-fold more potent than azithromycin at half of the same dose.

(Logo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20080218/ALSLOGO)

"These promising data underscore Restanza's demonstrated broad activity against multiple disease-causing infectious agents, including Streptococcus pneummoniae, a variety of pathogens that represent potential bioterror threats and, now, the species of parasites that cause malaria," said Michael T. Flavin, Ph.D., chairman and chief executive officer of Advanced Life Sciences. "We believe that Restanza represents a promising pipeline in and of itself, and we intend to continue to explore the wide range of its therapeutic potential. Our goal is to generate a portfolio of indications that we can develop and commercialize either on our own or in partnership with pharmaceutical companies with established anti-infective franchises."

About Malaria

Malaria is a parasitic disease that is characterized by high fevers, shaking chills, flu-like symptoms, and anemia, and requires hospitalization. Malaria is typically caused by a parasite that is transmitted from one human to another by the bite of infected mosquitoes. Malaria can also be transmitted from a mother to her unborn baby and by blood transfusions. In humans, the parasites (sporozoites) travel to the liver where they mature and release another form, the merosoites, which enter the bloodstream and infect red blood cells. The parasites multiply inside the red blood cells, which then rupture within 48 to 72 hours, infecting more red blood cells. The first symptoms usually occur 10 days to four weeks after infection, though they can appear as early as eight days or as long as a year after infection.

Malaria is a serious health problem in much of the tropics and subtropics and represents a major disease hazard for travelers to these regions and other warm climates. The widespread prevalence of malaria in Africa poses a severe social and economic threat. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that there are 300-500 million cases of malaria each year, resulting in more than one million deaths, many among very young children. Conventional treatment includes chloroquine, quinidine or quinine. In some areas of the world, the parasites have developed resistance to antibiotic treatments (doxycycline, tetracycline or clindamycin, atovaquone plus proguanil, mefloquine or artesunate, or the combination of pyrimethamine and sulfaxcozine). This has led to difficulty in controlling both the rate of infection and spread of this disease, creating an urgent need for new, effective drug treatments as well as preventive measures.

About Restanza

Restanza is a novel, once-a-day, oral antibiotic that is in late stage development for the treatment of adults with mild-to-moderate community-acquired pneumonia ("CABP") and biodefense pathogens. It has shown higher in vitro potency and a broader range of activity than macrolides against Gram-positive bacteria associated with respiratory tract infections and appears to be effective against penicillin-, macrolide- and fluoroquinolone-resistant bacteria. Restanza's demonstrated potency and ability to overcome bacterial resistance may be due to its mechanism of action resulting in specificity for its bacterial target. In addition to its utility in CABP, Restanza is also being investigated for the prophylactic treatment of inhalation anthrax post-exposure and other high priority biodefense pathogens, including plague and tularemia. The FDA has designated Restanza as an orphan drug for the prophylactic treatment of inhalation anthrax post exposure, as well as for use in treating plague and tularemia, but the drug is not yet approved for these or any other indications.

About Advanced Life Sciences

Advanced Life Sciences is a biopharmaceutical company engaged in the discovery, development and commercialization of novel drugs in the therapeutic areas of infection, cancer and respiratory diseases. The Company's lead candidate, Restanza, is a novel once-a-day oral antibiotic in late-stage development for the treatment of respiratory tract infections including CABP and biodefense pathogens including anthrax, plague and tularemia. For more information, please visit us on the web at www.advancedlifesciences.com or follow us on twitter at http://twitter.com/advancedlifesci.

ADLS- Advanced Life Sciences Announces Restanza(TM) STRONG BUY!

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Re:Drug leads are cheap. this profits glaxo (1)

rwiggers (1206310) | more than 4 years ago | (#32361108)

That's good anyway.
Probably they don't invest much in these (malaria drugs) anyway, since the main use of it would be in countries that have written in law that the government can break the patent if the cost of the medicament is too high.

Re:Drug leads are cheap. this profits glaxo (1)

prograde (1425683) | more than 4 years ago | (#32361808)

I agree completely. Except:

Now here' the twist: Ironically, by opening it up they maybe doing more to supress this compound than if they had kept quiet. The reason is, it's now unpatentable. What other company would invest in it?

There are still ways to get patent protection. Patent the formulation. Patent the synthesis method. Big Pharma has a long history of using these techniques to effectively extend patents almost indefinitely. The profits on a patented drug encourage them to pour the legal resources into bending patent law into a perversion of its intended goal, and the patent office (of any given country) doesn't have the resources or inclination to stop them.

Thankful my left boot! (3, Insightful)

syousef (465911) | more than 4 years ago | (#32358340)

I agree, we should take the facts and be thankful.

Oh thank you sir. I'm so greatful sir. Only sir do you think sir that you might find it in your heart sir to not lock up my own genome sir? I was hoping that we who share the genome sir would be able to use it to fight disease sir along with all those other drugs sir that you filed for first sir but you see sir if you lock it up sir many of us will die sir. May I lick your boot now sir?

But seriously, WHY should I be thankful to companies who are behaving badly and manipulating the law so as to maximise their own profits despite the death and suffering it causes, just because they released some small subset of the data? Are you mad? If I am mugged and beaten up should I be thankful that my attacker only laid the boot in 4 times instead of 5?

Re:Thankful my left boot! (1)

halivar (535827) | more than 4 years ago | (#32361904)

Easy solution: boycott. Ask your doctor not to sell you any of those evil capitalistic big pharma drugs (that they developed with billions of dollars from their own hideously immoral profits).

That will show them.

Re:Thankful my left boot! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32382702)

No. That won't work because too many other weak people won't boycott. Thus he must hope for government to intervene and put its boot to the neck, to paraphrase someone in gov't recently referring to a certain oil company.

Re:Thankful my left boot! (1)

syousef (465911) | more than 4 years ago | (#32403414)

Easy solution: boycott. Ask your doctor not to sell you any of those evil capitalistic big pharma drugs (that they developed with billions of dollars from their own hideously immoral profits).

That will show them.

Actually that would still leave you with a whole host of non-patented drugs. Depending on your medical condition you might still be okay. But that's not the point. Boycotts like that don't work. They certainly don't make the drugs cheaper, so they're not much of a solution.

Re:Thankful my left boot! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32373322)

Perhaps you would enjoy "cheaper" therapies like all of the pseudo-scientific crap out there? After all, it's not like it takes millions of dollars to get a drug from research labs, through animal and human trials, and undergo FDA scrutiny to MAYBE become profitable.

Re:Thankful my left boot! (1)

syousef (465911) | more than 4 years ago | (#32403400)

Perhaps you would enjoy "cheaper" therapies like all of the pseudo-scientific crap out there? After all, it's not like it takes millions of dollars to get a drug from research labs, through animal and human trials, and undergo FDA scrutiny to MAYBE become profitable.

Why are you posting anon?

The protocols in place are clearly doing more harm than good and should be changed so it doesn't cost so much.

Re:Start of something (0, Troll)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#32356894)

They would like you to pay them money in exchange for some sort of medical treatment.

Re:Start of something (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32358268)

Yeah. Lots of it. As much as you can afford. In fact, the more, the better for them. It's certainly not a buyer's market. In fact, it's not even a free market. It's a monopolists market, and last I checked, that sort of abuse was frowned upon.

Re:Start of something (1)

izomiac (815208) | more than 4 years ago | (#32357334)

Malaria kills a lot of people, so there's a lot of interest in providing the impoverished equatorial nations with anti-malarial drugs. Because it tends to only be endemic in poorer nations (poverty and malaria contribute to each other) there's not much profit in developing anti-malarials. Obviously they anticipate no cheap but effective drugs, so Glaxo Smith Klein can generate some good will by giving away a non-profitable potential product line.

Additionally, I'm sure that pharmaceuticals get asked to help fight malaria all the time. The executive staff is human enough to see the need for these drugs. If they're not going to actively research/develop antimalarials then it's not exactly ethical to just sit on this information while millions die. Plus, by giving away the designs, other people will researching them without Glaxo Smith Klein pumping money into it. Who knows, maybe someone will make a breakthrough and give something for Glaxo Smith Klein to run with it.

So, IMHO, it's a combination of buying goodwill, killing an unprofitable product line, and a long-shot investment in something they haven't tried before. I'm optimistic enough to think there's also some sincere ethical behavior sprinkled in as well.

Re:Start of something (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32359098)

Malaria kills a lot of potential customers, so there's a lot of interest in providing the impoverished equatorial nations with anti-malarial drugs. Because it tends to only be endemic in poorer nations (poverty and malaria contribute to each other) there's customer base for lifestyle drugs to be gained in developing anti-malarials and eradicating extreme poverty.

Re:Start of something (2, Interesting)

surmak (1238244) | more than 4 years ago | (#32357336)

I'll be cautiously, quietly applauding from a far corner, until I can figure out what exactly their ulterior motives are. They want my trust, and this is a good first step, but boy-oh-boy do they have an uphill battle before them.

Their motives are pretty clear: malaria effects half a billion people a year, but they are mostly poor and in poor countries. This way Glaxo is able to outsource the R&D, and get good PR (and maybe do some good for the world at the same time).

Meanwhile, their scientists can focus on the very profitable lifestyle drugs (e.g Viagara, Procieca), and drugs for conditions that effect the rich (high blood pressure, depression, diabetes, and the like).

Re:Start of something (1)

Cylix (55374) | more than 4 years ago | (#32358050)

The movie Idiocracy wasn't really a work of fiction, but rather a glimpse at the world of tomorrow. In the movie, science had focused on developing drugs to stop balding and increase erections.

I can't wait for Starbuck's to make the shift.

Re:Start of something (2, Insightful)

hedwards (940851) | more than 4 years ago | (#32356700)

I'm not surprised they'd be doing this with malaria drugs given who they're targeting with them they're not particularly profitable. I wouldn't be surprised if they try this with antibiotics next. Neither set of drugs are particularly profitable and are done mainly as a community service.

Re:Start of something (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 4 years ago | (#32358212)

I'm not surprised they'd be doing this with malaria drugs given who they're targeting with them they're not particularly profitable. ... Neither set of drugs are particularly profitable and are done mainly as a community service.

Of course anti-malarias were very profitable (along with HIV/AIDS, and heart drugs) until the poorer countries started issuing compulsory licenses.

Once a country issues a compulsory license, the unaffected pharmaceuticals cut their prices ~50% on any similar drugs in that market.
And yet even with 50% off the already discounted developing world price, they're selling product and making money.

GlaxoKlineSmith is one of the few pharmaceutical companies that hasn't been an utter dick, but don't think that they're doing this for charity.

Re:Start of something (0, Flamebait)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 4 years ago | (#32356790)

"Sorry for poisoning y... wait, look over there! Is that Elvis!"

Re:Start of something (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 4 years ago | (#32357524)

Disgruntled Glaxo shareholder gets mod points... News at 11...

Re:Start of something (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32356848)

but what about diseases without open sores?

Re:Start of something (1)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 4 years ago | (#32357002)

As long as pharmaceutical development is a private for-profit enterprise, the motives of the entities engaging in it will always be suspect, and that suspicion will usually be warranted.

Re:Start of something (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#32357346)

Their motives are not suspect, they are obvious.

Fortunately, existing drugs are effective enough against a wide range of conditions and regulation is effective enough that they are not able to sell cyanide pills for the treatment of anxiety (but you do have to get a doctors note to get your weed).

Linux approach? (3, Funny)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#32356640)

Oh to be a fly on the wall when RMS reads that.

Re:Linux approach? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32357276)

A fly-on-the-wall, soon to become fly-on-the-foot. Then fly-on-the-finger, fly-in-the-mouth.

Re:Linux approach? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32357892)

Oh to be a fly on the wall when RMS reads that.

Its GNU/Linux you insensitive clods

Re:Linux approach? (1)

Sulphur (1548251) | more than 4 years ago | (#32357976)

Gnu Glaxo Smith Kline anyone?

Re:Linux approach? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32359096)

GlaxoSmithKline's Not Unix, duh.

Old News (2, Interesting)

methano (519830) | more than 4 years ago | (#32356680)

This is old news in the pharmaceutical world. The general consensus is that this is only a PR stunt and doesn't really offer much at all. They're not offering the compounds as little bottles of powders, but only as pictures of the molecules. Don't be impressed.

Re:Old News (1)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 4 years ago | (#32356870)

"GSK will publish details of 13,500 chemical compounds from its own library" doesn't sound like it's incomplete data.

Re:Old News (3, Insightful)

Sarten-X (1102295) | more than 4 years ago | (#32356876)

Outside of the pharmaceutical world, this is still better than nothing.

Re:Old News (2, Interesting)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 4 years ago | (#32357478)

What they could do is donate a factory to pump out cheap, safe anti parasite like meds (eg guinea worm, river blindness, trachoma, lymphatic filariasis, schistosomiasis).
One tablet per child, a clinic to monitor the meds and a community is a bit better off even with bad water.
Less sick children, staying in school for a very low state cost.
They have then have the option to study hard, enter politics, mining and consider the needs for quality local private pharmaceutical enterprise.
Slowly they may reshape their countries into export driven economies pushing the post colonial, cold war loan based slavery.
Hmmmm, long term best just to publish 13,500 chemical compounds from the library.

Re:Old News (1)

Sarten-X (1102295) | more than 4 years ago | (#32366576)

Such places already exist, marketing mainly toward the developing countries. They aren't run by the big research-oriented firms. Instead, those little places rely on any information they can gain, such as reverse-engineering and public releases.

Among the research giants, this isn't anything more than PR. Among the villages of rural Africa, this (hopefully) reduces the cost of a low-quality malaria drug from about $4 to $1. That's a big deal.

Re:Old News (2, Insightful)

shipbrick (929823) | more than 4 years ago | (#32357034)

I'd guess they are also willing to provide samples, but I don't know. Anyhow, in the research world, a picture of a molecule is just as good to an medicinal and/or organic chemist, they can figure out how to synthesize it themselves and perhaps they might even be able to get some help by looking at the patents. Some medicinal chemists make tons of molecules for a purpose, only to find out they don't have any activity. This info would allow them to start with a parent compound they know will have some activity. They can then expand and make analogs potentially discovering new chemistry (tools) in the process. They would then likely try to make 'better' compounds while they or a biologist can try to find out the mechanism of how the compounds kill malaria. Even if this doesn't yield a cure, figuring out these mechanisms can serendipitously progress science, and we can learn even from the misses. In science, it's common to go down a road and find a dead end, but at least then we can put up a sign and tell others to avoid that road, so they can go down a different road in hope of finding whatever it is we are looking for (malaria treatments in this case). The more knowledge we obtain, the better our chances are...

Re:Old News (1)

shipbrick (929823) | more than 4 years ago | (#32357120)

I just realized I typed "kill malaria", but malaria is a disease caused by parasites such as Plasmodium falciparum (which are transmitted by mosquitoes). I guess you could say plasmodiums are the "malaria parasite", then you could 'kill' them...

Re:Old News (1)

methano (519830) | more than 4 years ago | (#32357866)

Sorry, but a picture of a molecule to a medicinal and/or organic chemists is about as good as a picture of a house is to a carpenter. He might know how to make it but it would take a long time to do so. Glaxo, narrowing it down to a mere 13,000, doesn't give you much of a start. Narrowing it down to 5 or 10, that's where your little description kicks in.

Re:Old News (1)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 4 years ago | (#32357368)

Whats better is it was researched funded by government and other grants.

We paid for the research anyway, its not like they are 'giving' us anything we didn't 'give' them the money to find it with.

This is just the typical BS they put out to 'the dulls' who don't realize what they do.

The end result is that they'll snoop around and find some good info from what they give out to the public, turn around, patent it and sell it to us at $250/pill

Re:Old News (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32357484)

Exactly. I can't recall the last time I heard of any pharmaceutical company committing altruism.

There's no money in cures, or naturally occurring beneficial drugs. The first runs contrary to Capitalism, and the 2nd isn't patentable. Synthetic drugs and maintenance medication is the mainstay of the pharmaceutical industry. Why would they change that? P.R only goes so far when peoples lives are at stake.

Re:Old News (1)

methano (519830) | more than 4 years ago | (#32357904)

You may be right about the lack of altruism in the pharmaceutical industry, but there are a lot of naturally occurring drugs on the market and companies are making a lot of money from them. They certainly are patentable.

Might be missing the point (1)

LostMyBeaver (1226054) | more than 4 years ago | (#32358580)

If a drug company is going to open source any type of data, it makes sense to open the most likely to be profitless in the future. With the Bill and Melinda Foundation targeting Malaria as strongly as they are with the intention of giving the vaccination (and possibly cures) away for free, it's really only a matter of time before either the market for the Malaria drugs are worth nothing at all or GSK finds themselves in a 20 year long patent dispute with Bill who has plenty of experience fighting these things.

I'm pretty sure that even if the Gates' family is doing everything more or less for free, they're almost certainly rapidly developing a huge IP pool to use as leverage against companies like GSK in case they find themselves being sued.

On top of that, Malaria related medications are generally targeted at 3rd world countries who depend on WHO and other "charitable government organizations" to wheel and deal to provide the drugs to them. The prices are rapidly driven down and then Indian pharmaceutical companies counterfeit the medications making them worth even less under the "We'd love to buy them from you the legitimate developers of the drug, but at those prices, we might just have to go with the India produced alternative, so take what we're offering or thank you for your time".

GSK could probably give away tons of their cures and save themselves the related headaches under these circumstances just to gain favorable press and have a little more leverage in Washington since they are "no longer evil... see?"

Re:Might be missing the point (1)

Sarten-X (1102295) | more than 4 years ago | (#32369104)

My fiancée had to take some of those Indian low-quality pills while we were in Africa. Anything that might make 'em a bit better is a good thing.

Re:Might be missing the point (1)

LostMyBeaver (1226054) | more than 4 years ago | (#32372606)

I have no idea if they are really low quality. I'd imagine that any firm that is counterfeiting the American drug technology probably has done a relatively precise job of reverse engineering what they are copying. I can only image that it would be bad business for them to do an imprecise job of it.

I also don't think the American drug producers wouldn't be so pissed about it if the pills weren't relatively accurate facsimiles of the originals. After all, they'd have no problem battling the Indian firms if they could just get some of the counterfeits and say "Here look, they're not even doing it right" by showing the breakdown of the original vs. the fake.

You are not supposed to say that. (2, Insightful)

GNUALMAFUERTE (697061) | more than 4 years ago | (#32356722)

'imperative to earn the trust of society, not just by meeting expectations but by exceeding them.

If you want to earn the trust of society, you should just do the right thing.

Explicitly stating that you want to earn the trust of the society is something you do in front of the shareholders, not publicly.

We already know you want our trust, and we already know what you'll do with it if you ever get it back.

makes me wonder (2, Interesting)

youn (1516637) | more than 4 years ago | (#32356784)

_ how much data is released about the drugs? (it's one thing to say this drug is made of this, another to release all necessary information)
_ what drugs are released (is it really the most up to date stuff or is it the drugs that didn't work 15 years ago and are about to go in the public domain anyway)

warren buffet said, "behind every business decision... the good reason, what convinces everybody (we want to save the world), and the real reason (like we need a pr stunt).

if the real intent is common good... awesome, kudos to them.

Its because there's no money in it (1)

EreIamJH (180023) | more than 4 years ago | (#32356902)

These a drugs that only poor tribal people really need. If it were research for something like a cancer drug (ie bought by rich westerners), then their moral high ground would quickly vanish.

Re:Its because there's no money in it (2, Interesting)

mirix (1649853) | more than 4 years ago | (#32356968)

This was my thought as well, give it away because good PR is worth more than the drugs would be worth.

Nevertheless, I still think it's a positive decision. Would be nice if we could get an open sourced drug for cancer or heart disease by the time I need it, though. (cancer and heart disease being the top two killers in the developed world, and all).

Obviously Bogus (0, Flamebait)

Saeed al-Sahaf (665390) | more than 4 years ago | (#32356934)

Sorry, but I just don't buy it.

The nature of big pharmaceutical is well known. Profit is above all else for these people.

The data that has been released can not possibly be useful in terms of developing any kind of significantly effective drug to fight / cure / mitigate malaria.

It just isn't realistic to believe that a major drug company like Glaxo would do *ANYTHING* that was altruistic.

Not possible. The data is clearly useless.

Re:Obviously Bogus (1)

sincewhen (640526) | more than 4 years ago | (#32357026)

Well, I would suspect that some of these chemicals/drugs could be effective against Malaria.

However GSK have looked at the large number of tests they would have to conduct, the price the potential buyers could afford to pay, and decided that it isn't worth their or any other pharma company's time as they wouldn't make their money back.

Thus they release them for the goodwill instead.

Re:Obviously Bogus (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32357176)

Until you can prove that you're qualified by making such a statement by producing a bio=chemistry doctorate of some kind? I recommend you shut the fuck up. I believe in science, not sour bitches who reject anything that doesn't fit into their narrow view of the world. You sound like some kind of fucked up religious zealot.

I would rather think, but won't profess to know, that if this data was dropped off as a red herring that anyone who could make real use of this data would immediately know it and reject it as such. I'll wait for them to speak on the matter instead of a common slashtard.

Re:Obviously Bogus (1)

Holi (250190) | more than 4 years ago | (#32357208)

Maybe less shrooms would give you a better perspective. The data is more likely that not very sound, if it were useless then this pr stunt, Granted I have very little trust in the pharmaceutical industry, but this is also a disease that would provide very little profit compared to other research. What it seems like is they are looking for a way to reduce research costs. Reduced research costs means greater access to a drug that could save millions, in money and lives, to an area of the world that can afford very little. I, for one am willing to give them the benefit of the doubt on this, hopefully it will drive the rest of the industry to follow. Imagine if research costs were driven down by disributed research. Hell I might be able to afford health insurance someday, though probably not in my limited lifetime.

BTW, fix your sig, it's quantum not quantom.

Re:Obviously Bogus (1)

jonwil (467024) | more than 4 years ago | (#32357278)

Given that most of the places where Malaria is a problem dont generally have populations with the money to afford expensive drugs and dont generally have much respect for western IP law, they probably decided that it wasnt worth the effort to commercialize a drug that most of the target market wouldn't be able to afford (or would be able to obtain through cheaper generics made by companies who dont respect western patents)

Re:Obviously Bogus (1)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 4 years ago | (#32357640)

Yes the "cheaper generics made by companies who dont respect western patents" is bad news for the average US intergenerational investors- your "trustafarian".
With all the poor parts of the world declaring medical emergencies and selling western pharma for cents in the $.
Sadly some make real cash and become creative. Like doing real trials and finding new drugs.
Some brands take new pharma to the US as legal FDA approved IP protected drugs.
If only the senator from Disney could fix the ~ 12 year generic patent issue and block the UN from allowing local manufacture.
Charity and donations would be better, trust funds protected and profit reducing competition avoided.

It's Kline, not Klein (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32356936)

It's Kline, not Klein.

Re:It's Kline, not Klein (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32357060)

It's ASS, not "ass". Ass.

The birth of GlaxOSS ? (2, Insightful)

freaker_TuC (7632) | more than 4 years ago | (#32357146)

Let's hope they get lots of good feedback, so, they will get the message not "everything" has to be closed-sourced.

This might be a good first incentive of another sector opening up in business.

It might be a PR stunt, but if this goes right, common people will see there are other possibilities; making it less feasable for this sector to force the impossible in the future...

I think all research for the 5 or 10 most common diseases should be open-sourced towards the world, for all to anticipate in such research.

Call me a cynic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32357168)

From the Article:

"Witty will also announce an $8m fund to pay for scientists to explore these chemicals or others in an "open lab" within its research centre at Tres Cantos, Spain, which is dedicated to work on malaria and other diseases of the developing world."

With drug companies suggesting that it costs between $500 million and $2 billion dollars to develop a drug (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drug_development#Cost, as estimated by big-pharma while independents suggest $150 - 200 million), this seem more of a cheap attempt to buy the hearts and minds of the populus. I wonder how well these 13,500 drugs, have been tested extensively in the past for their potential in treating disease and have come up short in cost/benefit models, or how many of them were close to entering the public domain due to expiring intellectual property rights?

Re:Call me a cynic (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#32357228)

A lot of drugs can be cheaply created, even by developing countries if they have the correct formulation. The problem is, in order to get aid, most countries sign "treaties" saying they will "respect" western patents in exchange for free money.

Re:Call me a cynic (1)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 4 years ago | (#32357430)

The drug companies usually sell them near cost in the countries, while pushing for non-profits in the US to buy doses at over-priced levels to send to the country so they can be seen as both "doing the right thing" selling for lower price there, while still making a profit in the same market.

But this sounds more like a situation where they said "there are a bunch of drugs that look like they may help, but we don't know, getting them through trials is too hard for the payback, and since we'd just throw them away, we'll give them away and claim the value at $1,000,0000,000,000 on our tax returns while claiming we are 'doing the right thing' even though it didn't cost us anything (the actual cash donation that accompanying the drug donation being treated separately)."

Oh, and what slashdot moderation is appropriate for wrong? Someone posts 2+2=3, you either post a correction, wiping out any moderation in that thread and leaving the factually incorrect post at a higher moderation, of you mod them -1 something because of a factual error. So what -1 mod would you pick, or would you argue that no factually incorrect post should ever be modded down?

Re:Call me a cynic (1)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 4 years ago | (#32357704)

Yes anyone can 'programme' a med for many parasitic diseases.
But as with a 'wintel' like closed hardware deal, your not going to get anything done until you pay for the MS offer plus hardware.

I support companies i feel aren't shitheads (1)

Neuroticwhine (1024687) | more than 4 years ago | (#32357224)

Hasn't Google and multiple other companies shown that there very well may be profit in a positive pro-people (as opposed to the more common system of pro-greed) concept. I wholeheartedly hope that this type of approach to branding, marketing or public relations gains more wide spread usage.

Lets face it, we as human beings want the good guys to win. If a company can express a certain goodness in nature, i have no doubt; and happily so, since this might be an interesting possibility for capitalistic economic systems, that they will realize the possible value of brand loyalty.

Of course you have to ask yourself, what if politicians took such an approach... that is, honesty.

Already published last week in Nature (3, Informative)

ChefJoe (808832) | more than 4 years ago | (#32357736)

http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v465/n7296/full/nature09107.html [nature.com] The paper was already published last week in Nature. There was another paper by Guiguemde and Kip Guy in the same issue that my lab helped with. The problem is that antimalarial drugs need to be affordable for millions of people to take daily in places where people live off less than $1/day. Things like Coartem and even artemisinin combination pills cost too much for most of the countries that need them, due to patents and safe manufacturing facilities or even just raw materials. Luckily, malaria is getting special recognition and that helps a lot with widely dispensing every tool available to combat the parasite.

"A Linux approach" (1)

SlappyBastard (961143) | more than 4 years ago | (#32357742)

Just seeing a non-geek publication use that term makes me tingle.

Taking it with a big grain of salt (3, Insightful)

2Bits (167227) | more than 4 years ago | (#32358084)

I'm taking it with a big grain of salt. The article only said that Glaxo would publish information of chemical compounds that have potential to act against the parasite that causes malaria , it didn't say that those are real final drugs that a third-world pharmaceutical factory can take to produce tablets. As anyone in the drug research would know (I'm only a programmer), in order to discover a cure, researchers generate thousands, or even millions, of chemical compounds to study. The majority of them are not useful for anything. They are not publishing information about confirmed hits.

The other thing I'm questioning is the patents. It just said the patents are waived for studying, it didn't say about manufacturing and marketing. What if one of the compound published turned out to be a hit, and Glaxo had patented it. Can others still use it without royalties? What about the IP of any derivatives?

Still a lot of questions to be answered.

Re:Taking it with a big grain of salt (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32360302)

Still a lot of questions to be answered.

Only if you have a reading comprehension problem.

And why the fuck do you think companies should be dropping pills from the skies for you to take freely? How about you put your money where your mouth is and try to start a pharmaceutical company and let us know how you feel about handing out drugs for free when you get a working formula that passes with the government seal of approval?

It's time for you freetards to finally ante up or shut up. These companies take a gamble to make a profit and they don't own you a fucking thing. The kinds of people who think that they do would be royally fucked without the system these companies put in place. I sincerely hope they pull up stakes and leave you fuckers to die soon. I'm sick of fucks who beg for everything and think they should have everything for free.

Re:Taking it with a big grain of salt (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32361462)

Disclaimer: As a researcher into malaria I directly benefit from this.

GSK publishing this data is actually fantastic news. They've put the chemical structures of 13,500 compounds that have antimalarial activity (in vitro) into the public domain http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20485427. Yes the majority of them won't make it to the final marketplace, within the data set there *might* be some antimalarials that will eventually be made into drugs for humans. Such is life in R+D. What makes this great is that GSK have whittled down the list if compounds from millions in their compound libraries to 13,500. Sharing that information with the research community has the potential to greatly accelerate the development of new antimalarials.

As for who makes money off this. It's part of the MMV initiative http://www.mmv.org/newsroom/press-releases/data-mmv-supported-research-now-public-domain. If it is regarded like other MMV-supported drugs then any antimalarials made are sold to the developing world at cost price and any profits made in developed countries is split between GSK and MMV (who put all the money back into supporting research for developing drugs for malaria).

It's win-win as far as I can see.

Yay. (1)

RichiH (749257) | more than 4 years ago | (#32359600)

Stuff like that makes me choose a brand when buying things.

Now if whoever bought the company that wanted to free the drugs against the sleeping illness from any IP (which, in turn, bought the company that wanted to free the drugs against the sleeping illness from any IP) would go through with it, a pill that has _no_ economic value to a large megacorp but could be manufactured locally and cure millions of people who are de facto in a coma...

the fastest way to get fired in pharma (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32362018)

is to invent a cure for malaria. This is because after the work and investment of developing the drug, it will be useful only in the 3rd world, and you'll end up giving the drug away to avoid being called a heartless corporation.
Glaxo has done nothing more than give up drug candidates it had no business interest in developing. Whether the community development model can generate the 800 million dollars worth of preclinical and clinical testing to bring a drug to market remains to be seen.

At least get the name right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32363718)

It's GlaxoSmithKline. One word, not Klein, not glaxco, and CamelCased. It's good people have such strong opinions on a company that they obviously no nothing about and instead prefer to just generalize "I pay too much for prescriptions".

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