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Pharmaceutical companies currently expend significant efforts integrating the vast amount of data publicly available into internal architectures. This is particularly the case with pharmacological data, the study of drug actions.

The increasingly noticeable problem of decreasing research and development efficiency, (Scannel et al.) in pharmaceutical companies has been linked to many different factors. Major criteria contributing to the fall in drug approval rates are those of unsuitable toxicology, pharmacokinetics and efficacy (Kola and Landis). Such problems could be reduced, and R&D efficiency increased, by access to a comprehensive database of pharmacological data to help initial drug screening stages and limit expensive clinical trial failure.

Figure 1. Overall trend in R&D efficiency, inflation-adjusted (Scannel et al.).

Figure 2. Reasons for drug attrition (1991-2000). PK, pharmacokinetics (Kola and Landis).

Such a comprehensive database of pharmacological information would be an indispensable resource to the pharmaceutical industry, academia and smaller companies. Various publicly available databases, such as Swiss-Prot, Enzyme, DrugBank, ChEBI, ChEMBL and ChemSpider contain large amounts of useful data, although currently this is often only accessible through separate interfaces.

Open PHACTS draws these multiple sources of pharmacological and chemical data together, initially allowing access to the information via an intuitive and publicly available interface, the Open PHACTS Explorer. The Open PHACTS Explorer allows the provenance (chronology of ownership) of each data point to be identified, an integral feature in developing end-user trust.

The Open PHACTS Discovery Platform also offers a powerful API to encourage the development of other applications and integration into scientific workflows.

J. W. Scannel, A. Blanckley, H. Boldon and B. Warrington, Nat. Rev. Drug Discov., 2012, 11, 191-200, (doi:10.1038/nrd3681).

I. Kola and J. Landis, Nat. Rev. Drug Discov., 2004, 3, 711-716, (doi:10.1038/nrd1470).