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May 29, 2007
Knowing What You Know. . .
Here's a question for people working in the industry: when you see your own company's press releases, just how close to reality do you feel they come? Could someone wanting to invest in your company's stock form an accurate picture of your drug pipeline's potential by reading them, or not?
I ask because (in my experience) the answer to that second question is very much in doubt. There are several reasons: First, from what I've seen, many companies have their official pipelines cluttered with compounds that aren't being developed - at least, not in the same way that the really important ones are. (Projects can get sent "into the clinic" for many reasons, not all of them productive). And canceled projects often linger on the list before they're removed, too. A dedicated reader of the company's SEC filings and press releases can work some of these things out, but no one makes it easy.
Then there are the press releases about specific projects, which. . .well, they're press releases, if you know what I mean. The bad news is skulking in a subordinate clause somewhere in the fifth paragraph, while the good news is up on stage, expensive spotlights reflecting off its refined makeup and tasteful clothes. This isn't a particular failing of the drug industry; it's a failing of press releases (or, more likely, of human nature).
This has a bearing on the issue of disclosure of clinical trial information, naturally. I think that we're moving toward some sort of standardized disclosure, and that there's little that can be done (in the long run) to stop it. I think the positives outweigh the negatives, although it's not as easy a match to score as you'd guess. (Lack of knowledge of statistics, to pick one big issue, could make the whole thing a pile of dry wood for fools to make bonfires of). More on this in a future post. . .
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