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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March 15, 2005

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Posted by Derek

Well, I'm back from my undisclosed location, ready to see what's been going on at work the past couple of days. I passed the site on the highway on the way home this evening, so I know that it's at least still there. The side of the building containing my lab was still intact, which is always a good sign.

What passes for normal blogging around here will resume shortly. For now, I wanted to point out this article from Matthew Herper at Forbes, who asks the inflammatory question: "Are Drug Patents Too Short?" His point, a valid one, is that clinical trials have tended to get longer, larger, and more expensive, while patent lifetimes aren't changing. And once a drug is off patent, no company is likely to spend the money to study it with much intensity.

The thing is, a patent extension for drug companies has, as Herper well knows, zero chance of being enacted. There are arguments for and against the idea, but we wouldn't even get that far. The inflatable bats and cream pies would come out immediately, and we'd set in dealing with this issue in the time-honored fashion. . .

The other solution is to make the clinical trials shorter and less painful, which is what the whole biomarker idea is aiming to do. So far, though, there's not much to point at in that field, but these are early days.

Comments (7) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Patents and IP


1. SP on March 16, 2005 8:02 AM writes...

Undisclosed location = ACS conference?

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2. Derek Lowe on March 16, 2005 9:45 AM writes...

Nah, vacation for a couple of days with the wife and kids. Much, much more entertaining than the ACS meeting, I can tell you. No poster sessions, for one thing.

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3. Doug Ridgway on March 16, 2005 12:32 PM writes...

Drug companies already receive patent extensions giving credit for period spent in regulatory review up to five years, see eg 35 USC 156 for the US, and similar provisions in other places. Don't these help a bit, or do clinical trials not count as part of the regulatory review?

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4. jsinger on March 17, 2005 6:11 PM writes...

Don't these help a bit, or do clinical trials not count as part of the regulatory review?

I'm not an authority but my understanding was that they don't.

Anyway, here's a proposition: what about extending the pharmaceutical patent term by, say, two years -- in return for giving up additional patents for new indications, combination therapies, etc...?

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5. bago on March 18, 2005 5:18 AM writes...

You have no idea how many times I've seen such things programming. One guy tried to re-implement a weak version of the resource manager for his UI code, and someone else drew up a class based representation of xml data by hand,instead of using xsd to automatically generate the several hundred lines of code they cooked up.

Honestly I think there is something to be gained from a fundamentally lay approach to abstract work. If you're lay, you won't want to put with with the redundant and menial work you can use to get an answer, when there's a proper and simple abstract method to reach your goals.

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6. bago on March 18, 2005 5:19 AM writes...

And by lay I meant lazy. My keyboard died two days ago :/

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7. spec on March 25, 2005 6:20 PM writes...

It seems at first glance an easy solution would be to grant patent exclusivity for, say 15 years from the date of FDA marketing approval, with no extensions for any reason.

I think that the only losers in this scenario are the lawyers.

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