The old drug discovery system was built to benefit shareholders, not patients. But a new, Linux-like platform could transform the way medicine is developed — and energize the race against COVID-19.
In 2014, Menon brought together a field of experts in public health, pharmacology, law, research, and technology to discuss and vet the idea of an open platform for drug development. Known as the Open Source Pharma Foundation, it would support free information and resource exchange to create affordable therapeutics for rare and neglected diseases. OSPF was founded shortly after and received funding from the Tata Trusts, an India-based philanthropic group, in 2018. The following year, Menon and a team in Bangalore took the generic diabetes drug metformin and moved it into Phase 2B clinical trials as a tuberculosis treatment. The process took less than a year and cost under $50,000—numbers that are unheard of in the slow-paced, costly world of drug development. Tufts University estimates it costs $2.6 billion to develop a typical new drug.
See How open-source medicine could prepare us for the next pandemic
The old drug discovery system was built to benefit shareholders, not patients. But a new, Linux-like platform could transform the way medicine is developed—and energize the race against COVID-19.