Speaking at a meeting hosted by the Wellcome Trust in London, the drug giant’s chief executive Sir Andrew Witty has outlined a number of initiatives the company is taking to extend what it describes as its ‘open innovation’ approach to R&D.
The most interesting project is that GSK will create a system that will enable researchers to access the detailed anonymised patient-level data that sit behind the results of clinical trials of its approved medicines and discontinued investigational medicines. Researchers will submit requests which will be reviewed for scientific merit by an independent panel of experts and access will be granted via a secure web site.
GSK says this will enable researchers to examine the data more closely or to combine data from different studies in order to conduct further research. The firm has also committed to seek publication of the results of all of its clinical trials - “regardless of what the results say – to peer-reviewed scientific journals”.
Sir Andrew 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 [and] by being more open with our clinical trial data, we also hope to help further scientific understanding.
I am pleased with the progress we have made so far to evolve our business model but we recognise there is more we can do”.
To The Guardian, Sir Andrew said:
“We’ve done an awful lot around this area but I think it’s still fair to say that not everybody believes that everything is made public. Even things we do all the time we’re criticised for not doing. People say we only publish positive trials. No, we publish everything. But the fact that people don’t know or haven’t yet accepted that we have this real commitment to transparency – we’ve got to keep working harder to get that message across.”
Sir Mark Walport, director of the Wellcome Trust, 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 borne of scientists sharing their knowledge and learning from each other. GSK’s moves are bold and innovative, a very positive sign of its commitment to tackle some of the greatest health challenges facing the world today.”
This initiative is a step towards the ultimate aim of the clinical research community developing a broader system where researchers will be able to access data from clinical trials conducted by different sponsors. GSK hopes the experience gained through this initiative will be of value in developing and catalysing this wider approach.
By Gianluigi Cuccureddu
Gianluigi Cuccureddu, contributing editor, is an experienced writer specializing in innovation, connected business and marketing. He is co-founder of Damarque, an EMEA professional services firm that takes a strategic view and hands-on approach across the entire value chain to help organizations integrate social technologies. To help them drive employee productivity, customer loyalty and better innovation. Damarque acts as trusted advisor to organizations to support and guide them through this transition phase and offers a unique approach and combination of competences.