Select Committee on Science and Technology Written Evidence


APPENDIX 118

Memorandum from the Pharma Documentation Ring

1.  EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

  1.1  The P-D-R represents 22 of the major international pharmaceutical companies.

  1.2   We contribute to the literature by (1) prominent advertisements for our products in many journals (2) sponsoring publication costs of supplements or special issues (3) purchasing article reprints for use at medical or scientific conferences or for answering other marketing enquiries. (4) publishing a significant number of articles each year reporting the results of our research and clinical trials.  

  1.3  Access to peer-reviewed, quality assured scientific literature is essential for the continued success of the pharmaceutical Industry in the UK, Europe and Internationally. The ability to publish the results of our R&D activities, and particularly the results of clinical trials our Companies have conducted or sponsored, is also of critical importance. Clinical opinion leaders and prescribers rely on peer-reviewed journals for high quality, balanced information on new medical products and treatments. Any change in the research publishing process that might put this quality aspect at risk would be detrimental.

  1.4  We have good relationships with most of the major STM publishers; our member companies having negotiated content licences with many of them. We are also testing new pricing and access models with some of them.

  1.5  As we move towards electronic collections and away from print, we expect publisher price increases to be closer to prevailing inflation rates than we have seen in the recent past. If this does not happen, then it is likely that these cost factors will restrict access to the research literature for our users.

  1.6  The new Open Access publishing initiatives are welcomed by the P-D-R, but we would not want to see the abandonment of the current system to one that is as yet untested, particularly in terms of its ability to deliver high quality published research.

  1.7  Another critical aspect of Open Access is that of reliable access and a long-term dependable archive. The National Library should have a role with the latter.

2.  WHAT IS THE P-D-R ?

  URL: http://www.p-d-r.com

  2.1  The P-D-R is today an organisation of corporate representatives from 22 of the major international pharmaceutical companies. Representatives must belong to the scientific, biomedical or technical information functions of a research-based pharmaceutical company and be able to report on non-confidential aspects of the information science activities of the corporate group.

  2.2  The aim of the P-D-R is to attain improved coverage, better distribution and optimum use of chemical, biomedical and pharmaceutical information. This aim is achieved by promoting exchange of experience and ideas between members in non-confidential areas of work and by jointly studying and assessing existing information products and services for the purpose of improvement.

  2.3  The P-D-R also initiates and encourages the development of new information services tailored to the needs of the pharmaceutical industry and provides a forum for the information industry serving the pharmaceutical sector.

  2.4  Over the past decade with the growing availability of electronic journals, P-D-R has established a collaboration with publishers' organisations like the PA (Publishers Association), STM (International Association of Scientific Technical and Medical publishers) and ALPSP (Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers) addressing the needs of the corporate sector and the special needs of the pharmaceutical sector.

  One of the achievements of this collaboration was the creation and general acceptance of the STM/P-D-R Sample e-Journal Licence ( http://www.p-d-r.com/Licence/STM  PDR/stm  pdr.html ). Another ongoing initiative is the creation of a Code of Practice for publishers' provision and Pharmaceutical companies' use of, e-content .

3.  THE USE OF SCIENTIFIC PUBLICATIONS IN THE PHARMACEUTICAL INDUSTRY

  3.1  One of the reasons for the productivity and success of the pharmaceutical Industry in the UK, Europe and Internationally is that our staff have access to high quality published information. This comes mainly from the peer reviewed output from commercial and Society publishers.

  3.2  Staff use this information, together with that from other sources, to follow new leads, investigate new procedures and monitor competitor's products and developments. New drugs, new cures against diseases can only be successfully and efficiently developed when the present scientific knowledge is easily available and reliable. The development of a new drug can take up to 12 years and costs up to 800 million Euros. Scientific publications are a key resource for pharmaceutical research.

  3.3  The future success of this industry depends on the continuing supply of this high quality information. We depend on publications that are scientifically accurate, validated by peer-review, and quality assured through careful copy-editing by the publisher. We would be concerned if any change in the research publishing process puts this quality aspect at risk.

4.  LICENSING AND RELATIONSHIP WITH PUBLISHERS

  4.1  The pharmaceutical market has always been an important one for many publishers. Not only have we subscribed to multiple copies of some journal titles (due to our multi-country, multi-site organisations) but we have paid premium commercial institutional rates for these titles. With more than 6m scientific papers published annually, the pharmaceutical industry particularly values the efforts of publishers in making scientific knowledge efficiently searchable and accessible.

  4.2  The pharmaceutical industry is a major contributor to many journals in four other ways. Firstly, we place prominent advertisements for our products in many journals, especially medical and clinical titles. Secondly, we may sponsor the publication costs of supplements or special issues in journals that publish in therapeutic areas in which we have a specific interest. Thirdly, we purchase many thousands of article reprints from publishers for use at medical or scientific conferences or for answering other marketing enquiries. Lastly, we publish a significant number of articles each year reporting the results of our research and clinical trials

  4.3  In the days before online versions of journals, we had little or no contact with publishers, placing all our orders through subscription agents. As online versions became available, it became clear that we required more extensive usage rights than the publishers were providing in their standard licences. For example we needed to be able to distribute articles freely and without restriction within our global companies, and to use the licensed content for Regulatory submissions work.

  4.4  Therefore most of the global pharmaceutical companies have now negotiated and licensed directly with the major publishers for online access. Initially this was for the journals that the pharmaceutical companies subscribed to in print, but increasingly we have looked at extending the range of titles available to our users, by licensing additional titles from some publishers. (The so-called "Big Deal") This has been justified entirely on a cost-benefit basis for each deal. There has been no question of us being forced into choosing these collections, though it has resulted in us have access to journals that are of marginal or no interest..

  4.5  Because of the availability of online journals and our ability to license these, our staff now have access to more journal titles than they previously had access to in print. Our licences cost more than we used to pay for the print alone, but the advantages of instant access when and where required, helps to meet our business needs and can be cost-justified when that additional cost is proportional to the local inflation rate index.

  4.6  We now have closer working relationships with publishers than ever before. This has been beneficial to both parties. Publishers understand our particular usage requirements and expectations for service, whilst we have been able to assist publishers with new product development, and developing new pricing policies. We also serve on many publishers' Library Advisory Boards.

  4.7  The Pharmaceutical Industry has also worked through their own industry bodies with Reproduction Rights Organisations such as the Copyright Clearance Center (in the US) and the Copyright Licensing Agency (in the UK) to develop blanket copying licences that meet the needs of our industry. We are recognised as a highly copyright compliant industry.

  4.8  We expect online journal access models and pricing models to change. We cannot base future pricing models for online access on what that company used to take in print years before. We have been working with publishers in this area and are currently testing several new pricing models based on collecting and analysing usage metrics and basing the licence price on this.

5.  PHARMACEUTICAL STAFF AS AUTHORS

  5.1  Much of the R&D carried out in our industry is commercially sensitive, and therefore the results may not be published externally.

  5.2  But our industry also needs to communicate new information on its products to clinical opinion leaders and prescribers. Peer reviewed journals play an important role in ensuring that timely, balanced and high quality information is available to opinion leaders and prescribers. As a result, the pharmaceutical industry publishes a significant number of articles each year.

  5.3  As with any other author, the publishers may require that copyright of the article to be published be transferred to them. Some publishers grant back to the author or their employer certain rights eg the right to continue to use the article internally within their organisation. In other cases, we need to buy back the results of our own research at publishers' prices. Any use of a published article for commercial purposes, eg promotional purposes at a conference, invariably involves the purchase of reprints from the publisher. The Pharmaceutical Industry recognises that the sale of reprints is an important source of revenue for STM publishers and is prepared to continue with this arrangement. Some of our companies are now asking that our authors do not assign their copyright to the publisher in this way, and that we retain full rights and control over our published research, but most publishers will then refuse to publish the article.

6.  OPEN ACCESS : IMPLICATIONS FOR THE PHARMACEUTICAL INDUSTRY

  6.1  P-D-R companies have been challenged over the last few years by the significantly increasing journal costs and the additional costs for electronic access. Heavy price increases, however, are not only experienced with commercial publishers but also with publishing houses owned by scientific societies. The P-D-R welcomes the move to electronic access. Some member companies have already switched their collections to e-only. While there is willingness to pay for this new access route and also acceptance that industrial customers pay higher license fees than academia, continuing annual price increases in the double digit range are not acceptable. The continuing price increases coupled to budgetary pressures within our industry have resulted in the cancellation of some print subscriptions even to well-known and prestigious STM journals. Subsequently, dissemination of information and knowledge is reduced, and the intrinsic reason for scientific publishing is neglected.

  6.2  In this context a broader competition through the new Open Access journals is welcomed by the pharmaceutical industry, hoping that this helps to limit the cost increase. But as mentioned before, keeping the quality control and quality assurance on a very high level is extremely important and the new Open Access journals still have to prove, that this is done in the same way as traditional high impact factor journals .

  6.3  The P-D-R companies may be reluctant to publish in these new OA journals whilst they are still establishing themselves and the Impact Factors are low. It is commercially important for us to publish our work in those journals that are likely to be read by the key opinion leaders and prescribers.

  6.4  The archiving and access issues seem to be the critical aspects with Open Access publishing. With the move from print to electronic resources, libraries often abolished their print holdings and solely depend on the publishers archives. Therefore, an assured archive and assured, easy and standardised access to that archive is absolutely necessary. While traditional publishers, so far, have proved to be able to provide this, the economical background of some Open Access publishers leaves doubts. We would expect the Legal Deposit libraries to also have a role in providing long-term access to this archive.

  6.5  One Open Access initiative that is a strongly supported by the P-D-R is where the publisher makes the journal archive freely available to everyone a short time after publication. This may be as short as three months, or up to a year after publication. We might subscribe to these in order to get the most recent content which is of the most value to us, but non-subscribers then get access a short time later.

  6.6  A shift of budget from the library to the author's functions in R&D, an inevitable consequence of the shift to open access publishing, is not a major problem for pharmaceutical companies. It would also simplify the current processes for making a companies' own publications easily available on their websites by linking to the Open Access article. However, mandatory use of Open Access journals is not a realistic alternative from our perspective.

  6.7  The current publishing system has served us well in recent years as we have moved towards electronic journals and away from print. We have worked with most of the STM publishers, large and small, to facilitate this transition. The worst scenario from our perspective would be the abandonment of this system to one that is as yet untested, particularly in terms of its ability to deliver high quality published research.

  6.8  Finally, we have indicated in this submission that the P-D-R member companies, despite publishing some research themselves, are net consumers of research information. So if OA were to become the dominant publishing model, it could be said that we would benefit the most in terms of cost savings. We would like to confirm our commitment to the continuation of a high quality peer reviewed publishing process. We would not want to do anything that jeopardises this. Therefore we would be quite open to discuss future funding models with OA publishers. One model could possibly be sponsorship from pharmaceutical companies. The detail would have to be worked out, so that there could be no possibility of us being perceived as sponsoring certain articles or research, but it is an area we are open to explore further with the relevant parties.

7.  RESPONSES TO SPECIFIC QUESTIONS ASKED BY THE ENQUIRY

  Many of these responses are also made in the main part of our submission, but are repeated here for convenience.

7.1  What impact do publishers' current policies on pricing and provision of scientific journals, particularly "big deal schemes", have on libraries and the teaching and research communities they serve?

  P-D-R companies have been challenged over the last few years by the significantly increasing journal costs and the additional costs for electronic access. Heavy price increases, however, are not only experienced with commercial publishers but also with publishing houses owned by scientific societies. The P-D-R welcomes the move to electronic access.

  Continuing annual price increases in the double digit range are not acceptable and can only result in the cancelling of further journal subscriptions within our industry. Early notification of price increases improves our ability to budget appropriately.

  Increasingly we have looked at extending the range of titles available to our users, by licensing additional titles from some publishers. (The so-called `Big Deal' ) This has been justified entirely on a cost-benefit basis for each deal. There has been no question of us being forced into choosing these collections.

7.2  What action should Government, academic institutions and publishers be taking to promote a competitive market in scientific publications?

  In a sense there is no competition because, for example, if we want to buy Nature, we can't buy that from anyone else but Nature. In a sense, the most prestigious journals are monopolies. They can name their price and we will continue to subscribe to them. We rely on them adopting a responsible approach to pricing.

  But we would support any Government initiative that encourages the principles of freedom to publish in high quality journals, whether they be Open Access or commercial journals.

7.3  What are the consequences of increasing numbers of open-access journals, for example for the operation of the Research Assessment Exercise and other selection processes? Should the Government support such a trend and, if so, how?

  This is a matter for those directly involved to consider.

7.4  How effectively are the Legal Deposit Libraries making available non-print scientific publications to the research community, and what steps should they be taking in this respect?

  If a publisher ceases to provide online access to a particular journal that we had licensed, we would expect the National Library to take over that access, in order to secure the long-term availability of that title.

  For non-subscribed journals, we would expect the National Library to provide electronic access to these journals on a buy-as-needed basis, to include any fee due under local copyright regulations.

7.5  What impact will trends in academic journal publishing have on the risks of scientific fraud and malpractice?

  If OA journals are refereed to the same high standards as traditional journals are now, then the risk of fraud should be no more. The danger is that if OA publishers are tempted to accept more papers than a traditional publisher might (because the author is paying, hence an increase in revenue for the publisher) then the peer review process may come under strain, standards might drop and the risk of fraudulent research being published might increase.

April 2004



 
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