Collaborators Against Cancer

Courtesy of Getty Images Among the most fiercely competitive corporations in the business world, pharmaceutical companies jealously guard their secret research and profitable patents. Yet an industry group is now promoting a plan to break down the walls dividing the world's major drug makers for an all-out effort against cancer. The CEO Roundtable on Cancer, which met earlier this month, is considering a proposal to create a research collaboration similar to one established by the US semicond

Susan Warner
Jun 29, 2003
Courtesy of Getty Images

Among the most fiercely competitive corporations in the business world, pharmaceutical companies jealously guard their secret research and profitable patents. Yet an industry group is now promoting a plan to break down the walls dividing the world's major drug makers for an all-out effort against cancer. The CEO Roundtable on Cancer, which met earlier this month, is considering a proposal to create a research collaboration similar to one established by the US semiconductor industry in the 1980s. The proposed research plan would spread both the risks and rewards of drug discovery across a wide pool of companies and potentially speed treatment to patients.

The plan faces significant obstacles, chiefly legal problems related to intellectual property rights and antitrust regulations. A task force exploring the idea expects it will take at least another year to come up with a solid framework for a combined research program. "This...

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