Clinical trial data as public goods: Fair trade and the virtual knowledge bank as a solution to the free rider problem - A framework for the promotion of innovation by facilitation of clinical trial data sharing among biopharmaceutical companies in the era of omics and big data
Background: Knowledge in the era of Omics and Big Data has been increasingly conceptualized as a public good. Sharing of de-identified patient data has been advocated as a means to increase confidence and public trust in the results of clinical trials. On the other hand, research has shown that the current research and development model of the biopharmaceutical industry has reached its innovation capacity. In response to that, the biopharmaceutical industry has adopted open innovation practices, with sharing of clinical trial data being among the most interesting ones. However, due to the free rider problem, clinical trial data sharing among biopharmaceutical companies could undermine their innovativeness. Method: Based on the theory of public goods, we have developed a commons arrangement and devised a model, which enables secure and fair clinical trial data sharing over a Virtual Knowledge Bank based on a web platform. Our model uses data as a virtual currency and treats knowledge as a club good. Results: Fair sharing of clinical trial data over the Virtual Knowledge Bank has positive effects on the innovation capacity of the biopharmaceutical industry without compromising the intellectual rights, proprietary interests and competitiveness of the latter. Conclusion: The Virtual Knowledge Bank is a sustainable and self-expanding model for secure and fair clinical trial data sharing that allows for sharing of clinical trial data, while at the same time it increases the innovation capacity of the biopharmaceutical industry.