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GlaxoSmithKline sharing data

Challenge

Enable others to make use of proprietary data.

Problem

Pharmaceutical companies generate huge amounts of data in discovering and testing new potential medicines. Not all of this data is made public, often for reasons of competitiveness. This can result in others re-treading similar ground and wasting effort.

Drug companies are also accused of withholding trial data that suggest a new medicine is not particularly effective. GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) recently settled with the US government over charges that the company had misrepresented trial data for popular drugs like Avandia and Paxil. The company paid a US$3 billion fine.

Solution

GlaxoSmithKline is seeking to ensure greater transparency by opening up its data for use by external scientists. It hopes new discoveries may come from access to the data. GSK is using an independent board to screen requests from scientists to look at anonymised patient data from trials on abandoned or granted medicines, and grant access on merit through a secure website.

GSK will also share data on some of the compounds it has investigated for diseases such as tuberculosis, for researchers wanting to investigate further.

Benefits

Building trust with the research and patient communities
Potentially new uses discovered for existing GSK compounds
Leadership position that makes it hard for other companies to ‘hide’ data

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