About this Author
DBL%20Hendrix%20small.png College chemistry, 1983

Derek Lowe The 2002 Model

Dbl%20new%20portrait%20B%26W.png After 10 years of blogging. . .

Derek Lowe, an Arkansan by birth, got his BA from Hendrix College and his PhD in organic chemistry from Duke before spending time in Germany on a Humboldt Fellowship on his post-doc. He's worked for several major pharmaceutical companies since 1989 on drug discovery projects against schizophrenia, Alzheimer's, diabetes, osteoporosis and other diseases. To contact Derek email him directly: Twitter: Dereklowe

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In the Pipeline

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June 24, 2002

Another Shot

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Posted by Derek

Little time to blog tonight - I was out at a celebration of another milestone in a compound's development. I've been to a lot of these over the years, and the reason is that you have to celebrate what things you can. If you wait until the compounds hit the pharmacy shelves, you could be in for a long wait.

I've never worked on a project that's led to an actual product - it's possible to go an entire career without that happening. I can think of one, maybe two of my projects in 13 years that have progressed to having a human being put the compound into their mouth.

What happened to the rest? Most didn't make it to the clinic at all. They ran into trouble early, when we couldn't get improved compounds that were even worth continuing with. Or they ran into trouble late, when we tested then in longer toxicity assays and bad things happened to the rats. Others were recommended for development, but only formally - the project ended, a compound was picked, but by that time the reason for the project's existence had evaporated, and the whole thing died on the vine.

Even the things I've had go up to human trials didn't make it beyond phase I (safety.) I haven't ever had an actual sick person take anything I've worked with; that's Phase II. I'd be happy to speculate on the chances of that happening in the next few years, but only if I could think of a way to do it without giving away information (which I don't think is possible.)

Drug companies guard information about their pipeline very closely, and for the most part the only information that gets made public is what they want their competition (or Wall St.) to see. We all spend time wondering about what the heck the folks are up to at the other companies. . .are they celebrating? Going out to dinner? Still working late at night trying to get that far? Or are they filing away another set of lab notebooks, and starting new ones with another project's title on the spine, hoping that this one will work out, for once. . .

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