The American Chemical Society (ACS) has asked that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) terminate, or significantly alter, PubChem, a publicly available database that includes information about the biological activities of chemical compounds. Information included in PubChem is available from disparate public sources. PubChem is considered the "informatics backbone" of the NIH Molecular Libraries Initiative, an effort launched by NIH last fall that focuses on helping scientists use small molecule chemical compounds in their research. The Molecular Libraries Initiative is a part of NIH's Roadmap Initiative, which seeks to accelerate the development of new research and medical treatments.
ACS is concerned that PubChem as a free publicly available database will cause economic harm to the society's fee-based Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS). ACS has asked that NIH either shut down PubChem or eliminate any overlap with CAS.
This challenge to a federal agency is reminiscent of the Department of Energy's PubScience effort. Publishers succeeded in shutting that initiative down in 2002.
ARL with others in the public interest community are working in support of the continuation of PubChem.