The potential impact of this is huge.
It’s really one of those problems that we would thought would be gone by now, but hospital infections and diseases haven’t gone away. According to this Scientific American piece, the problem has gotten worse.
It is the ultimate paradox of American health care: going to the hospital can kill you. Every year nearly two million hospital-acquired infections claim roughly 100,000 lives and add $45 billion in costs; that is as many lives and dollars as taken by AIDS, breast cancer and auto accidents combined. And with antibiotic resistance rising steadily, those numbers promise to climb even higher.
Even more staggering than the numbers is that most of these infections are preventable. The Institute of Medicine has long since determined that if hospital staff would make some minor adjustments to their routines—like washing their hands more—the problem could be significantly minimized.
Increased use of antibiotics has created new breeds of superbugs that are antibiotic-resistant and hospitals have become dependent on antibiotics in lieu of proper hygiene.
This proposed law in New York wants physicians to forego neckties, but the law misses the forest for the trees. The issue is not to pick and choose which particular hygiene rules to follow, but rather for hospitals to have comprehensive policies to minimize infection in the first place.
Open Source Biology? Stephen Friend is trying just that. Friend is applying Open Source philosophy to the biological sciences in order to speed up pharmaceutical development.
Why would these corporations and universities participate? How is it in their interests?
My thoughts: it’s about the time value of money. By speeding up the process of drug development, even if the parties get smaller pieces of the pie, they still come out ahead. One challenge would be to determine appropriate percentages for each group.
A second challenge would be how to ensure intellectual property protection. There may be a patent law 102(b) bar with the disclosures coming so much earlier in the process. Two quick potential solutions: 1) Keep the technology closed within the network (so there’s no public disclosure) and 2) File more patents and file earlier in the processes. Or the parties could accept the disclosure of the earlier products if the final products are sufficiently valuable and more quickly developed.