“Funders of research are the one group who have the power to change the slow, inefficient, old-fashioned, wasteful, arbitrary, and, some would say, iniquitous way that we publish science. About half of biomedical research is funded by pharmaceutical companies, but they have been much slower than public funders of research to use their influence. Open Pharma, which “works with pharma to drive fast and transparent medical publishing,” is encouraging pharmaceutical companies to use their influence more. The group met last week and discussed promoting open access and finding ways to link together the material on particular issues—perhaps a single clinical trial, a drug, or a disease—that currently is widely scattered and hard to find. (I chaired the meeting: see conflict of interest statement below.)
On the day of the meeting only one pharmaceutical company—Shire had mandated open access for the research it funds, whether undertaken by its employees or outsiders. Indeed, remarkably it seemed to be the only for-profit company to have done so—despite hundreds, probably thousands, of public bodies having mandated open access. (The day after the meeting another pharmaceutical company, Ipsen, also mandated open access.) One ironic reason for pharmaceutical companies being so slow is that they are heavily regulated and uncertain how regulators will view mandatory open access….
We agreed that for a patient, researcher, reviewer, or journalist it could be useful to have all the material together, and for a funder, including a pharmaceutical company, it would be good to be able to easily access all material related to research it had funded. There was also a hope expressed at the meeting that ensuring all material was available would increase trust in pharmaceutical companies.
At the moment, six major pharmaceutical companies are part of Open Pharma, along with six publishers—and the hope is that more may join and that the companies can work with public funders of research in improving the publishing of science.”