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June 14, 2004
Family activities prohibit much blogging tonight, but I wanted to bring up a couple of other issues about secrecy in the drug business. One effect of all the proprietary information running around inside our buildings is that it's rather unusual to have someone from a rival drug firm visit another one. If they do, then it's likely to be for a seminar or symposium, and they'll be confined to the public meeting areas of the site.
The only times you see any people from another company up in the lab areas are when some sort of research deal has been signed, or (more commonly!) when someone is slipping over to interview for a job. Those are certainly the only times I've ever seen the inside of another drug company, and quite right. I wouldn't let me upstairs, either.
It's not like I'm going to be snooping around, but it would be impossible not to see something revealing. There isn't going to be any sensitive information lying around in the cafeteria or the main conference rooms - there had better not be - but there's nothing but sensitive stuff all over the labs: notebooks, spectra, printouts, structures and reactions all over the blackboards and the sliding glass of the fume hoods.
All that can stay up if there's a high school group coming through on a tour. But two or three times in my career, I've been in labs where we had to sanitize the place ahead of scientifically adept outside visitors (a busload of miscellaneous academics, say) and it was a pain. It's odd to look through hood sashes that aren't full of blue and black heiroglyphics for once.
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