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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: derekb.lowe@gmail.com Twitter: Dereklowe

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In the Pipeline: Don't miss Derek Lowe's excellent commentary on drug discovery and the pharma industry in general at In the Pipeline

In the Pipeline

« Lighting Out for the Frontier | Main | Back for More »

July 8, 2004

How Do You Know When to Stop?

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Posted by Derek

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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