GSK Encourages Open Innovation and R&D

Oct 15, 2012

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has outlined the measures it is taking as part of a new open innovation approach to R&D, including opening up its tuberculosis compound library, investing in its open laboratory in Spain, and sharing detailed clinical trial data with researchers.

According to a press statement, GSK has been making “fundamental” changes to its business model during the past few years to become more open about its R&D activities, as well as to encourage the sharing of intellectual property, knowledge, and resources.

In a statement, Sir Mark Walport, director of the UK’s Wellcome Trust charity, said, “In its commitment towards more openness and collaboration, GSK is setting an example of how the pharmaceutical industry must adapt to help drive forward medical advances. Real breakthroughs do not come out of nowhere, but are born of scientists sharing their knowledge and learning from each other.”

Compound library
GSK’s compound library includes approximately 200 compounds that may inhibit tuberculosis (TB) bacteria, which the company will make public. According to a statement, this is the first time that a pharmaceutical company has opened up its own library of proprietary TB compounds. GSK hopes the move will provide a new starting point for the discovery of new TB medicines using an open approach to R&D.

Investment in open laboratory
GSK will provide its Open Lab laboratory in Tres Cantos, Spain, with an additional £5-million ($8 million) in funding. The laboratory was established in 2010 to allow independent researchers to access the company’s facilities, resources, and knowledge for their own research projects. Currently, there are 16 research projects in the Open Lab’s portfolio, including projects examining TB, malaria, Chagas disease, leishmaniasis, and sleeping sickness.

Clinical trial data
Data from GSK’s clinical trials, whether positive or negative, are already published on a public website and the company is also seeking to publish the results of the trials in peer-reviewed scientific journals. Now, the company has also announced its intention to create a system that will provides researchers with access to detailed anonymised patient-level data and discontinued investigational medicines. Researchers wishing to access the data, which will be available on a website, will need to submit requests, which will be reviewed by an independent panel of experts to ensure that the information will only be used for valid scientific endeavors. According to GSK, researchers will be able to examine the trial data more closely or combine data from different studies for further research.

Andrew Witty, CEO of GSK, said, “I believe we have a responsibility to do all we can at GSK to use our resources, knowledge and expertise to help tackle serious global health challenges. However, the complexity of the science and the scale of the challenge mean that we cannot solve these problems alone. We need to take a different approach – one focused on partnership, collaboration, and openness. By being more open with our clinical trial data, we also hope to help further scientific understanding.”

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