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Unleashing Innovation: The Case for Permissionless R&D in Pharma

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Copyright © DrugPatentWatch. Originally published at

A recent article in Communications of the ACM explores opportunities for “Permissionless innovation” in pharmaceuticals.

“Permissionless innovation” refers to the freedom to explore new technologies or businesses without needing prior approval. It has fueled rapid innovation in the IT industry through open APIs, platforms, and ecosystem development.

The main points are:

  • The pharmaceutical industry could potentially benefit from adopting a permissionless innovation approach, as the current drug development process is extremely expensive, slow, and inefficient.
  • The article provides examples like Goldcorp opening up its geological data which allowed outsiders to identify new potential gold deposits, creating huge value.
  • For pharma, the idea is to separate the R&D process into open and closed parts. Companies could openly share data, compounds, and IP for outside researchers and companies to explore new applications and innovations without permission.
  • Pharma companies would still retain patents and control over the core, monetized parts of the pipeline, but gain value from permissionless innovation in the more open/exploratory phases.
  • Potential benefits include finding new uses for existing compounds, leveraging specialized expertise of third parties, and exploring opportunities not attractive enough for large pharma companies alone.

The central premise is that opening up parts of the pharma R&D process to external permissionless innovation could unlock significant untapped value, while still protecting the core intellectual property of the drug makers.

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Copyright © DrugPatentWatch. Originally published at
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