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July 8, 2004
How Do You Know When to Stop?
Qetzal makes a good point in the comments to the previous post: "fail quickly" is fine, but when are you sure that you've failed? It's a real problem. Medicinal chemists like me are notorious for always having another chemical series to try, another set of modifications that just might do the trick. We can go on for years, and sometimes we do.
The trouble is, sometimes you go on for years and get squat, and then everyone involved resolves to never let a project go on for more than eight months before pulling it. Other times things lurch along until a sudden breakthrough three years in, leading to a zillion-dollar hit. Then everyone involved resolves to never kill a project after just two years, because you never know.
I'll take up this subject - though I doubt I'll solve it! - when I get back from vacation. This will be the last post until next weekend. I can't say that I'll be thinking about the problems of the drug industry for the next few days, but perhaps some sections of my brain will be on the case.
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