An op-ed I wrote


I have an article published online at the Xconomy Forum called
Biotech Needs Charity, and Profit Motive, To Flourish.

It discusses the possible role of non-profit research institutions in Seattle in new drug development. It also mentions a new corporate entity called an L3C that could have some impact in this area. This permits an entirely new focus of research to occur on diseases that might not have the profit potential needed by current approaches.

I first heard about an L3C at an Idea Club that dealt with green microfinancing supported by the Sustainable Path Foundation, whose board I am on. Idea Club is a monthly forum where anyone who has an interest in the topic can attend and enter a conversation.

It is designed to be very open with little of the hierarchy seen in normal lecture-audience presentation. In last month’s meeting, someone mentioned L2C as a possible approach here in the US rather than microfinancing. None of us had heard of an L3C before so I quickly looked it up.

I realized immediately how it would inform my ideas about an article and my op-ed is the result.

So much of the health needs of our world are unattended because of the cost of development of new therapeutics. This means that only very highly profitable drugs can be developed, those with market sizes in the billions.

The non-profit research institutions in the Seattle area are working from over $2 billion in grants on several different diseases, many of which will never produce the profit needed for commercial development.

An L3C, or similar, gives them the ability to develop drugs that do not have the high profit requirements of current drugs being developed and expands the universe of approaches for finding new breakthrough therapeutics.

Essentially, the current model of near term, high profits would remain, as well as the very long term, low/no profit model of the non-profit research organizations. There would be the addition of a new model, a longer term, modest profit company, that could work on drugs that remain out of reach for current funding opportunities.

This might open up a whole new realm of therapeutics for our sick.

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