Gaussian; AstraZeneca and GlaxoSmithKline; parallel trading of pharmaceuticals

  • Chemists who are unhappy with the licensing terms of Gaussian, the quantum chemistry software, have set up a website. The licence for Gaussian (which is based on the science of Sir John Pople) forbids users from publishing data comparing the programme with other software. Some chemists and institutions have been banned from using Gaussian. According to Reinhart Ahlrichs, a chemist from Karlsruhe University, Germany, ’Gaussian has a long blacklist’, which includes him. The ban makes refereeing papers with Gaussian results very difficult, a situation which Ahlrichs finds ’intolerable’.

  • Pharmaceutical giants AstraZeneca and GlaxoSmithKline have announced major investments in UK-based R & D to coincide with a commitment from Chancellor Gordon Brown to increase partnership between government and industry. AstraZeneca will invest over ?58 million in a new Centre for Advanced Lead Discovery based at the company’s Alderley Park site in Cheshire, representing the next phase in a ?1 billion programme to be completed by 2006. GSK has committed ?28 million to establish a new Clinical Imaging Centre at Hammersmith Hospital in London, which it claims is one of the world’s largest industry-university collaborations.

  • The parallel trading of pharmaceuticals - by which drugs are imported into Britain from Europe - is now estimated to account for about 20 per cent of the total UK market. Even taking into account the benefit to consumers of cheaper drugs (some parallel traded drugs are 15 per cent cheaper than the UK equivalent), this probably costs the UK economy ?290 million overall, concludes economist Stefan Szymanski at Imperial College London in a report commissioned by the Economic and Social Research Council. ’Parallel trade in pharmaceuticals is an issue for the UK government in terms of health care and industrial policies,’ he said.