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May 21, 2005

American Chemical Society Unduly Retards NIH PubChem Development

"Patrice McDermott of the ALA Washington office has written an excellent overview of the controversy between the Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS) and the NIH's PubChem. Excerpt: 'The American Chemical Society is calling on Congress to shut down the NIH's PubChem, a freely accessible database on small organic molecules. PubChem is an important component of NIH's Molecular Libraries Initiative, which is a key element of the NIH "road map" for medical research. ACS claims that PubChem competes with Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS). In reality, PubChem and the Chemical Abstracts Service databases are complementary, not duplicative... A bedrock NIH principle is that medical research information developed with public funds must be made freely and publicly available for the good of advancing medical research to cure disease... PubChem provides free access to its database; CAS charges a fee for researchers to use its database. ACS has demanded that NIH shut down PubChem or substantially alter it so as not to compete with CAS... NIH staff analysis shows that PubChem and CAS overlap relatively little in terms of content. PubChem and CAS differ widely in scope and resources.'"

Source: Peter Suber. More on the CAS attempt to shut down PubChem. OA News (17 May 2005) [FullText]

"The American Chemical Society released a public statement and FAQ (May 18, 2005) on its complaint that the US government should not provide OA to chemical data through PubChem. Excerpt: 'As things stand, in PubChem, NIH has created a mini-replica of the CAS registry, and a replica poised to expand. That replica will, over time, post an insurmountable threat to CAS' survival for the very reason that it is a taxpayer-supported service. The fact that the data collected into PubChem is "public domain" is completely irrelevant. Assembling information and publishing it in a variety of forms is what the private sector does. We believe that taxpayers should not fund the entry of NIH into the information industry more broadly than is necessary to disseminate the information whose creation it funds.'"

Source: Peter Suber. More on CAS v. PubChem. OA News (19 May 2005) [FullText]

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