A UK report claims that since 1994, 18,000 stem cell patents, two-third in the US, have been issued. This is described as a “patent thicket problem” and seriously slows the pace of innovative research and it promises costly therapies since companies want to recover money spent at the development level. Goozner wonders whether all grant recipients could agree to donate exclusive license to a common patent pool supervised by a new non-profit organization set up for that purpose. Patent pools have worked in other technologies, like open source software. Patent pools could also work in biomedicine.
While the article concerns developing new therapeutics in the advanced industrial world, it is applicable to developing drugs for neglected diseases.