Human society still faces severe health challenges, especially the three billion people who are poor and unable to buy modern medicine. Sadly, the development of medicine has become a high-cost commercial activity amid the need for highly specialised drugs. Modern medicine has undoubtedly improved the longevity of our lives across the world, but even today, many diseases lack effective remedies as they are considered diseases of poor societies and industry has moved on.
In the last century, many great discoveries were made by compassionate individuals who were led by the greater common good and for whom the welfare of their fellow beings was the greatest reward. Dr. Jonas Salk's polio vaccine is an outstanding example of compassion at work. This single discovery eliminated a scourge that had held mankind for ransom through the ages!
Clearly the world is getting more and more divided in this field. Rich societies live longer, because of access to better public health, better medicine, and better medical care. Many of the great medicinal discoveries of the past are slowly losing their potency because of increased drug resistance. But not much work is going on to counter this resistance by creating new drugs, because of the cost and the low profit potential.
Therefore, it is essential that we recreate the compassion of the past and the spirit that put human lives first, before commercial interests, and create an ecosystem where individuals and groups can come together in an open system, to create new drugs to eliminate diseases and save lives. Fortunately, many people are coming together under the banner of 'open source pharma' to address this challenge, and all of us need to support this movement to make a better future for humanity.
I salute the individuals and groups involved in open source pharma and pledge them my full support!
T.V. Mohandas Pai is the Chairman of Manipal Global Education Services.
Other essays in this series:
James Kassaga Arinaitwe, Global Health Corps & Aspen Institute Fellow / Kampala
Manica Balasegaram, Exec. Director, Access Campaign, Médecins Sans Frontières / Geneva
Polly J. Price, Emory University law professor / Atlanta
John Wilbanks, Chief Commons Officer, Sage Bionetworks / Washington, D.C.
Dimitrios Tzalis, Founder & CEO, Taros Chemicals GmbH & Co. KG. / Dortmund
Els Torreele, Director, Access to Essential Medicines Initiative, Open Society Foundations / NYC
Tomasz Sablinski, CEO of Transparency Life Sciences / NYC
Zakir Thomas, Open innovation expert & former Project Director of OSDD / Delhi
Matthew Todd, Founder of Open Source Malaria / Sydney & Cambridge