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February 25, 2004
Ezetimibe, The Press, and More
Credit where it's due! Yesterday I mentioned the original chemist who started the ezetimibe story, but I should note that the drug itself was synthesized by another former colleague of mine, Stuart Rosenblum. He and a host of others developed a huge series of analogs, which built in more acitivity and greater in vivo stability. Just the way drug development is supposed to work, actually.
This drug is also used as an example in a very interesting front-page Wall Street Journal article yesterday. It's a public version of a debate that's been going on inside the industry for a few years now: has the huge increase in compound screening (and compound synthesis) done any good? The article does a pretty good job discussing the issue, although it does mix the two technologies together a bit. It's a very interesting topic, which I'll return to here soon.
And while you're at it, the same issue of the newspaper has (in the Money and Investing section) a nice piece on how drug companies tend to bury news of clinical failures. Different companies handle this differently, of course, but with some of them you really have to watch closely. The article makes the same point I did a while ago - investing in this industry is more of a gamble than most people think. Don't just buy one company's stock if you're looking at biotech and pharma - there's no way you can really know what's going on. Spread your risk.
These articles confirm the Journal's status as the best newspaper when it comes to covering the drug business. The New York Times tries, and sometimes has good work in it, but isn't in the same class. As for magazines, I'd say that Forbes does very well, as does their online site with its copious coverage from Matthew Herper.
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