Researchers Realizing That Hoarding Of Medical Research Harming Results

from the it's-about-time dept

Last year, we wrote about how changes to the patent system concerning basic research 25 years ago had resulted in bio and medical researchers keeping their research secret for as long as possible to make sure they, and only they, could benefit from the lucrative nature of these patents. The obvious problem with that is that medical breakthroughs (despite folklore) often don’t come about just because of the brilliant thinking of one individual, but in collaboration among people with many different ideas. Part of the patent system is that it’s supposed to help by getting ideas published, but with those patents being so lucrative and everyone keeping quiet it means that the various ideas were being held for as long as possible — slowing down all sorts of medical advancement. It appears that some medical researchers are finally recognizing this. The Wall Street Journal today has an article noting that only 20 new drugs were approved last year, and researchers are blaming the lack of collaboration for the failure to see any more breakthroughs. However, some are finally changing this practice and looking to share more information, much earlier in the process in order to try to build up more practical ideas more quickly.

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Comments on “Researchers Realizing That Hoarding Of Medical Research Harming Results”

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dorpus says:

Negative Research

In the biomedical research field, the problem isn’t so much provocative findings, of which there are plenty. The problem is the lack of disclosure about negative results. Plenty of researchers have spun their findings to make it sound provocative, but more often than not, other researchers fail to replicate the result, and the finding is quietly discredited — but the negation is not published, so it is known only informally by insiders in the field.

If we want true information liberation, then scientific journals ought to publish the overwhelming volume of negative, non-provocative, unexciting findings.

Rikko says:

Medicine as industry will do that...

Unfortunately, as long as medical research belongs to a private sector this is just the way things will be. Obviously if worldwide medicine were pushed into a completely transparent, public sector industry (picture some UN-led administration, say), then we could become fairly sure that we’re maximizing our output.

Obviously that’s totally unfeasible with the state of affairs in the world today, so we’re left to trust private companies. Given that they’re jobs ARE to create cures and improve health, they obviously aren’t going to make up complete BS AIDS cures (unlike those complete naturalist retards at the health food stores that tell you you can cure AIDS and cancer by eating broccoli and taking a fruit juice enema every day for a month).

I’ve come to expect a certain degree of understatement of side effects from the pharmaceutical companies, but given that they profit more from having a product out there for decades (rather than a quick buck on pure BS, not to mention the PR black eye), I do trust what they release.

A Funny Guy / The Poison Pen says:

Re: Medicine as industry will do that...

I think your understanding of what the drug companies primary job is, is a little bet flawed….
From the looks of things, their primary job it to make their shareholders and themselves a ton of money.
And if someone feels better for it, sop much the better……..
Capitalism is a sick sick concept when let go unfettered to the point that humanity suffers so a small group of people can profit…
Oil Conglomerates, Drug Companies, The Food Industry, Public Utilites………

joe says:

Re: Re: Re: Medicine as industry will do that...

Unfettered capitalism is a sick concept, so is communism.

The free market system’s supply and demand cost controls don’t work well when whats at stake is your life.

State controlled industries are wasteful, inefficient and incompetent regardless of the system of government.

Ultimately some complicated mixture may resolve some issues… Oh, skip that its being tried (and failing) Medicare’s prescription program… OK, no solution will ever work. It is simply against human nature.

dorpus says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Medicine as industry will do that...

Health care is an inherently wasteful activity — we are paying huge sums to maintain the status quo of good health. When we don’t spend huge sums, then public health deteriorates, and the economy grinds to a halt. If we allowed free market forces to reign, restaurants and supermarkets served germ-laden food, product safety wasn’t followed, buildings don’t maintain their fire safety codes, etc., modern society could not survive.

Tyshaun says:

Re: Re: Re:3 The INDUSTRY of healthcare...

As pessimistic as it sound, pharmaceutical companies, which provide most of the drugs we use today, are in the business of making money, not saving lives. I wish it wasn’t the case, but it is. The most troubling effect of that declaration, in my opinion, is that I wonder how much emphasis is placed on finding “cures” to ailments versus “treatments”. Is it more profitable to develop a treatment to actual cure an ailment (say diabetes) or simply churn out more and more insulin and associated drugs to control the condition.
In the end, unless we’re living in fantasy land we know the answer to that. As per more collaboration between medical researchers, until they overcome the problem of making sure that revenue streams by the individual collaborators are secured, I don’t think you’ll see significant participation from the private sector entities.

dorpus says:

Re: Re: Re:4 The INDUSTRY of healthcare...

A cure for diabetes? That sounds pretty hard — how would you rebuild an organ when your immune system has destroyed it? You would have to 1. program your immune system to stop attacking the organ, then 2. replace the organ.

If medical research were done for profit, we would never have invented the polio vaccine. Treatment for polio is extremely expensive, while polio vaccines are extremely cheap.

Pharmaceuticals depend upon the expertise of universities to survive. They haven’t done much basic science on their own.

Rikko says:

Re: Re: Re:4 The INDUSTRY of healthcare...

As pessimistic as it sound, pharmaceutical companies, which provide most of the drugs we use today, are in the business of making money, not saving lives.

The beauty of it is that they are in both businesses, because they can’t just be in one.

Find a lousy pharmaceutical company that releases buggy vaccines and deploys fixes to these vaccines only on the first Tuesday of every month (and only if they decided it’s important enough to fix), and they’re not going to last very long.
Odd how it’s the only industry where that can happen.

Posterlogo says:


The amount of misunderstanding displayed here is unbeliveable. I am a postdoctoral researcher in a cell biology laboratory at a public university operating with public funds. The vast majority of research falls under this category. Do not attempt to clump us in with the drug companies. The majority of biomedical research is not in the business of patents and drug applications. We DO have a collaborative environment. What the drug companies do, which is who you are trying to refer to, is to maintain their competitive research edge. Fine. It’s their business how they go about it. If it’s diminishing overall productivity, I’m sure they’ll have to adapt. But don’t try and claim that all biomedical researchers are secretive and out to keep all their results to themselves. Nobody is interested in negative results simply because they prove absolutely nothing. It is part of the scientific method that you cannot rely on negative results to explain phenomena, because there is always something that could have been missing in the experiment. As it should be, complete stories are published with positive results, and an explanation of negative results only if they are relevant to the story. No one ties to sweep things under the rug when they are proven false. Anyone with an internet access can go to pubmed and keep current with the latest results. If you are relying on 20 year old publications and wondering why ever journal doesn’t bother to point how research has progressed since then, you’re obviously missing the point — just read the latest articles on the subject.

Posterlogo says:

oh, and...

if by negative results, you mean drugs that failed to have any effect. if that negative data is not taken into the stats, that is simply false and misleading, and should not be published as such. instead of a publication that it didn’t work, just save everyone’s time and resources and don’t publish it as such, and obviously don’t submit the drug for approval. negative results in the strictest scientific sense have a very different meaning.

dorpus says:

Re: oh, and...

Ok, you’re talking from the pharmaceutical research perspective. I’m in the genetics field, and the field is notorious for journals that are eager to publish “positive” results of genes that are associated with a particular phenotype; but follow-up studies negating the results are rarely published, when they are conducted at all.

For now, we are still in a unigene mentality world, in which we only know about diseases caused by single genes or single chromosomal abnormalities (e.g. albinism, Down’s syndrome, etc.) Plenty of diseases have polygene origins (e.g. heart disease, diabetes), but coupled with environmental interactions, plus epistasis, plus expressivity/penetrance issues, it’s an undeveloped wilderness right now.

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