Innovative pharmacy student develops open access medicine information database

Mon, 22 Nov 2021 10:15:00 GMT

Access to reliable information about medicines in many countries is often patchy and very challenging. Which is what prompted final year pharmacy student, Malik Ahmed, to found the OpenPIL organisation which aims to transform access to information and make it available in an open source manner.

Since OpenPIL’s founding in June 2020, Malik and his team of 11 healthcare students and professionals in pharmacy and medicine have dedicated hours to build the world’s first open source clinical drug information database by coding an artificial intelligence algorithm to extract information from copyright-free Summary of Product Characteristics documents.

To further OpenPIL’s aims, Malik has also partnered with the Open Source Pharma Foundation, founded by Harvard University Senior Fellow and Human Rights Activist, Jaykumar Menon, which is the world’s leading non-profit organisation in open source pharmaceutical development.

Malik and the team have achieved all of this in their own time and around very demanding commitments. Notably in Malik’s case, he worked a weekend job to finance OpenPIL while also working as a Pharmacy Support Worker at Manchester Royal Infirmary during the coronavirus pandemic where he has been helping communicate with other healthcare professions, dispensing medicines and dealing with administration.

OpenPIL is part of global initiative to revolutionise the provision of medicines by creating a fully open source pharmaceutical system. This will be of particular benefit to countries that the lack the funding for pharmacy systems. By making the most of the information that is available and using cheap artificial intelligence to mine it, OpenPIL will make a significant contribution to advancing these aims. As the Director of the WHO has suggested, such initiatives are essential so that “all people can enjoy the benefits of science and research".