UCLA researchers digitize massive collection of folk medicine | UCLA

“A project more than 40 years in the making, the Archive of Healing is one of the largest databases of medicinal folklore from around the world. UCLA Professor David Shorter has launched an interactive, searchable website featuring hundreds of thousands of entries that span more than 200 years, and draws from seven continents, six university archives, 3,200 published sources, and both first and second-hand information from folkloric field notes.

The entries address a broad range of health-related topics including everything from midwifery and menopause to common colds and flus. The site aims to preserve Indigenous knowledge about healing practices, while preventing that data from being exploited for profit….”

Intellectual Property Rights and Access in Crisis | SpringerLink

Abstract:  The importance of access to intellectual property rights (IPR) protected subject-matter in two crucial areas – public health, and educational and cultural engagement – has been extensively demonstrated during the COVID-19 pandemic. Although they involve separate legal areas, patent and copyright, the common thread linking the two is intellectual property’s difficult relationship with access in the public interest. This paper examines the tensions caused by access barriers, the tools used to reduce them and their effectiveness. It is clear that the access barriers magnified by COVID-19 are not restricted to narrow or specific contexts but are widespread. They are created by, and are a feature of, our existing IPR frameworks. Open movements provide limited remedies because they are not designed to, nor can adequately address the wide range of access barriers necessary to promote the public interest. Existing legislative mechanisms designed to remove access barriers similarly fail to effectively remedy access needs. These existing options are premised on the assumption that there is a singular “public” motivated by homogenous “interests”, which fails to reflect the plurality and cross-border reality of the public(s) interest(s) underpinning the welfare goals of IPR. We conclude that a systemic re-evaluation is required and call for positive and equitable legal measures protective of the public(s) interest(s) to be built within IPR frameworks that also address non-IPR barriers. The current pandemic and development of a “new normal” provides a crucial opportunity to comprehensively consider the public(s) interest(s), not just during a global health crisis, but on an ongoing basis.

 

To Prevent the Resurgence of the Pandemic, Can We Talk About Open-Source Research? – Center for Economic and Policy Research

“But suppose Pfizer, Moderna, and the rest insist they are not selling, or at least not at a reasonable price. Then we go route two. We offer big bucks directly to the people who have this knowledge. Suppose we offer $5-$10 million to key engineers for a couple of months to work with engineers around the world. Yeah, Pfizer and Moderna can sue them. We’ll pick up the tab for their legal fees and any money they could lose in settlements. The sums involved are trivial relative to lives that could be saved and the damage prevented by more rapid diffusion of the vaccines.

If these companies actually pursued lawsuits it would also be a great teaching opportunity. It would show the world how single-mindedly these companies pursue profits and how incredibly corrupting the current system of patent monopoly financing is.

Okay, but let’s say we can overcome the obstacles and get the knowledge from these companies freely dispensed around the world. We still have the claim that there are physical limits to how rapidly vaccines can be produced.

There are two points here. First, while there clearly are limits, we can still move more quickly in the relevant time frame. No one had vaccines in March of 2019, but the leading producers had the capacity to produce tens of millions of doses a month by November, a period of less than eight months….”

The Monopoly of Journal Subscriptions and the Commodification of Research – The Wire Science

“So the final question is whether the government of India should try to address the basic problem of proprietorship of knowledge, and its subsequent commercialisation, by negotiating for a better deal from journal proprietors for access at less exorbitant fees; or should it examine how to change the law to give proprietary ownership to the creators of the knowledge?

The earlier bulk subscriptions negotiated by Uruguay and Egypt, cost them about Rs 48 per capita, while India currently spends about Rs 12 per capita. For India to arrive at an agreement at the same rate as Uruguay and Egypt would mean an expenditure of roughly Rs 6,500 crore (or $890mn). As it is, in India, public funding for research is scarce and becoming scarcer by the day through market-friendly policies. Changing the law, on the other hand, would either mean modifying existing legal provisions or at least passing legislation with respect to publicly funded research and its products within India as well as free access to such research globally….

Meanwhile, we must be quite clear that Sci-Hub and Library Genesis are providing an enormously useful service to scholars all over the world. It will be a long time before any official agency in India will be able to provide a comparable service. The best we can hope for is that the court cases against them languish for as long as possible as they do for much less laudable causes.”

Europe hints at patent grab from Big Pharma – POLITICO

“Ever so softly, European politicians are beginning to voice a once unthinkable threat by suggesting they could snatch patents from drug companies to make up for massive shortfalls in the supply of coronavirus vaccines.

Big Pharma businesses have for many years regarded EU countries as unquestioningly loyal allies over intellectual property rights in the international trade arena. The EU could always be relied upon to defend U.S., Japanese and European drugmakers from poor nations in Africa and South Asia that have long wanted the recipe of critical medicines to be handed over to generic manufacturers.

But fury over the inability of companies to deliver on contracts amid the COVID-19 pandemic means that now even European politicians, from the Italian parliament to German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier, are arguing, albeit cautiously, that patents may no longer be as sacrosanct as they once were….”

Should Universities Get Out of the Patent Business? | Centre for International Governance Innovation

“The emphasis on university patenting is an example of a policy that was developed for the right reasons but fails in practice. Unfortunately, rather than abandoning the policy, universities and governments are doubling down on it. The results aren’t surprising: Canadians are paying more to get less. It turns out that university patenting represents a cost that hinders Canada’s — already lagging — innovation performance. It lessens investments in innovation, lowers innovation outputs for Canadian firms and delays or kills promising innovation. It is past time to fix this policy, and open science collaborations are an emerging tool that may be right for the job….”

Should Universities Get Out of the Patent Business? | Centre for International Governance Innovation

“The emphasis on university patenting is an example of a policy that was developed for the right reasons but fails in practice. Unfortunately, rather than abandoning the policy, universities and governments are doubling down on it. The results aren’t surprising: Canadians are paying more to get less. It turns out that university patenting represents a cost that hinders Canada’s — already lagging — innovation performance. It lessens investments in innovation, lowers innovation outputs for Canadian firms and delays or kills promising innovation. It is past time to fix this policy, and open science collaborations are an emerging tool that may be right for the job….”

They Pledged to Donate Rights to Their COVID Vaccine, Then Sold Them to Pharma – Kaiser Health News

“Oxford University surprised and pleased advocates of overhauling the vaccine business in April by promising to donate the rights to its promising coronavirus vaccine to any drugmaker.

The idea was to provide medicines preventing or treating COVID-19 at a low cost or free of charge, the British university said. That made sense to people seeking change. The coronavirus was raging. Many agreed that traditional vaccine development, characterized by long lead times, manufacturing monopolies and weak investment, was broken….

A few weeks later, Oxford—urged on by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation—reversed course. It signed an exclusive vaccine deal with AstraZeneca that gave the pharmaceutical giant sole rights and no guarantee of low prices—with the less-publicized potential for Oxford to eventually make millions from the deal and win plenty of prestige….”

We need to talk about preprints: how (not) to deal with the media « KU Leuven blogt

“Online preprint servers such as arXiv and bioRxiv allow researchers to share their findings with the scientific community before peer review. They are also a goldmine for journalists looking for their next big story. Here are some tips to navigate a potential media minefield….”