Calls to increase the productivity of pharmaceutical research on neglected tropical diseases often revolve on the establishment of ‘open innovation’ initiatives and the creation of ‘pre-competitive spaces’. Common to these policies is an abrogation of intellectual property rights, or at least a modulation of their use as a mechanism for monopolistic appropriation. The discovery of new medicines against the diseases of the Global South requires the collaboration of multiple, heterogeneous actors, and that collaboration is only possible if proprietary assets are shared widely and claims to ownership are temporarily suspended. This presentation will discuss the operation of ‘open innovation’ in the particular context of malaria drug discovery. It will analyse three elements in an emergent public research infrastructure: the release and curation of free-access chemical and genomic data, the dissemination of patented compounds, and the legal strategies used to minimize the impact of intellectual property rights on the circulation of knowledge. The work to be presented is part of BioProperty, a research programme that explores the future of property rights in biomedical research.

Javier Lezaun
James Martin Lecturer in Science and Technology Governance
Institute for Science, Innovation and Society
School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography
University of Oxford