Can the pharmaceutical industry learn something from Knowledge Unlatched?


Industries outside of the book world are taking an interest in the business model of Knowledge Unlatched. Recently Frances Pinter was invited to present at the Big Innovation Centre/Chatham House workshop on commercial business model options for antibiotics – sponsored by GlaxoSmithKline. The workshop involved key stakeholders from external financing groups, public bodies/research councils, government agencies (including the FDA), academic institutions and industry.

The problem in a nutshell is that as price pressures increase on antibacterial drugs and resistance to antibiotics grows with overuse there needs to be a new way to incentivise investment in R&D that does not rely on individual unit sales. The workshop was looking for new ideas from innovative business models from a diverse range of industries including finance, defence, insurance, credit rating and energy – as well as publishing.

Participants took away with them the idea that an independent 3rd party could act as a broker to connect public health/payers with industries in an efficient way. They thought this could help prioritise funding, delivery and focus against public health needs. The KU experience also instigated thinking on how the industry can work together regarding agreeing cost ranges for a particular product (based on agreed criteria) to enable simpler consistent pricing arrangements to help costs to be covered.

KU is delighted to have contributed to the thinking around this very important and pressing issue.

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