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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: Twitter: Dereklowe

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In the Pipeline

« BMS Freezes Salaries | Main | Sheer Economics: How We Got in This Fix »

February 4, 2010

Here's a Business Plan For You

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Posted by Derek

On another front, we now have an ex-BMS associate scientist who's apparently been arrested for stealing company materials in preparation for starting his own company back in India. I presume he was planning to get into the advanced pharmaceutical intermediates business (or perhaps the biotech end of it), using as much proprietary information as he could download in order to get a quick leg up. The company's security folks seem to have flagged him over the Christmas break, and he's since been spending time with the FBI. . .

Comments (22) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Current Events | The Dark Side


1. anon the II on February 4, 2010 1:44 PM writes...

Are they hiring?

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2. RandDChemist on February 4, 2010 2:25 PM writes...

One a related front: BMS announces outsourcing of R&D to India and China. (sarcasm)

So what could POSSIBLY go wrong with outsourcing to India and China? Cheaper labor has a price...!

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3. David on February 4, 2010 3:13 PM writes...

LOL! Did you read the article? How in the world could a 29 year old "technical operations associate" steal "numerous trade secrets as part of a plan to establish a pharmaceutical firm in his native India which would compete with Bristol-Myers Squibb in various markets around the world"? Is security that lax at BMS? If so, the entire IT security staff should be sacked. Is it really that easy to start a new pharmaceutical firm that would compete with BMS in markets around the world? Interesting story, with a generous sprinkling of hyperbole.

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4. Anchor on February 4, 2010 3:28 PM writes...

#3 It is possible that he may just show some these documents that he stashed away to the enemies of "BMS", I guess. He still makes the money!

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5. The Pharmacoepidemiologist on February 4, 2010 3:40 PM writes...

The fact that they have his PC with the documents on it doesn't mean he didn't already send a copy across the net to his collaborators in India. I too would like to know if they are hiring. As for the IT dept at BMS, I can only assume that their bonuses as well as their salaries will be frozen. Except for the nephew of the CEO. Oops, that was prior management.

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6. milkshake on February 4, 2010 4:16 PM writes...

I wonder what kind of terrible secrets he could have been stealing at BMS that would allow his future company in India to scoop BMS.

If he downloaded manufacturing process procedures perhaps he could use them - once he has the right to make these drugs as generics... except that he could have gotten a similar kind of info straight from the company's process patents.

This guy sounds like a cheerful dilettante from a Cohen's brothers movie. My guess is that the company will make an example of him. It is quite easy to wildly inflate the value of the pilfered informations, and the feds (and the judge) won't give him a break either, once its clear he was trying to sell the stuff abroad.

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7. achemist on February 4, 2010 4:21 PM writes...

Recently, a Chinese coworker left my company to return to China and join a CRO there. Not long afterward, I received advertising material from that CRO which included text, images, and data copied directly from a proprietary internal presentation I made. When confronted, this former coworker would not acknowledge that there was anything wrong with what he had done. Taking someone else's work and using it as your own was perfectly fine in his mind. Some cultures simply do not value intellectual property.

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8. Panch0 on February 4, 2010 4:55 PM writes...

#3 Dont't blame the IT folks - Securiy policies are top-down management responsibility. IT just applies them. Either the policies are crap or IT did not get the money they have asked for to apply them properly.

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9. CMCguy on February 4, 2010 6:26 PM writes...

milkshake although similar info might be in the companies process patents the actual manufacturing procedures can be of great value. The details and specific parameters can go a long way to making a route able to make materials verses one that is truly viable in economic and regulatory senses. As far as making a generic if one violates certain boundaries such as posted not sure a stretch to make for sale in developing countries where Patent protection is often a paper barrier.

And even if no making a Generic sometimes the knowledge can be applied to different compounds/problems. On occasion I wished I had a better memory as had to leave behind process improvements I created, but never got patented/published, and years later faced similar circumstances where needed to relearn forgotten details to work through a project walking a line of not revealing or using somethings I did remember. I think this "appropriation of technology" has happen many times, perhaps no so blatantly, as most people probably just left with the info in their head and not written down. No evidence to support opinion but would bet that many shops in China and India that exist today got a start using confidential info.

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10. qetzal on February 4, 2010 6:34 PM writes...

Ditto #9. Suppose you were planning to make one of their APIs. I think it would be a huge advantage to have copies of batch records, process validation reports, analytical test methods, etc., as opposed to just their patents.

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11. milkshake on February 4, 2010 6:49 PM writes...

I think you are right - if i remember correctly few years ago BMS sued and successfully shut down some small Asian company producing taxol by the older BMS process route

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12. Jgault on February 4, 2010 7:50 PM writes...

OK, I know this is going to be controversial, but a little part of me wishes he would have gotten back to india and started his own company and become rich. Hell, how many scientists have worked thier lives inventing things for big pharma only to have the CEO's who had nothing to do with these inventions get rich off thier work (and laying off the scientist).
Don't hate me for a little musing.

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13. barry on February 5, 2010 1:22 AM writes...

You run into Kant's categorical imperative. If it were ok to run off with IP, the entire Pharma Research industry would collapse. There are other ways one could imagine accomplishing research in pharmaceuticals, but I'm not rushing to destroy the current model based on IP/profit before something else is in place.

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14. Morten G on February 5, 2010 3:49 AM writes...

"Hell, how many scientists have worked thier lives inventing things for big pharma only to have the CEO's who had nothing to do with these inventions get rich off thier work"

Well it's like insurance, right? If you are completely sure that everything you do will be a blockbuster drug (or just moderately successful for that matter) you should start a company yourself. If you want to provide for yourself and your family you are probably better of in an already established company.

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15. Nick on February 5, 2010 7:19 AM writes...

Sorry for the thread hijack, but is that Reza Ghadiri "expose" mentioned in the comments from a few posts ago even real?

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16. leftscienceawhileago on February 5, 2010 7:50 PM writes...

15) it is real, sadly not much good content up yet.

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17. theblogmaster on February 5, 2010 7:51 PM writes...

"Hell, how many scientists have worked thier lives inventing things for big pharma only to have the CEO's who had nothing to do with these inventions get rich off thier work"

Yeah, kinda makes me wish I had gone for an MBA rather than a PhD in Chemistry. (nah.. maybe not)

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18. jgault on February 6, 2010 3:03 AM writes...

Barry and Morton,
Of course your right, without rules we would be like, well India. Hey at least we would have jobs. I have to allow myself a little vicarious fantasy every now and then.

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19. Concerned_Chemist on February 6, 2010 9:20 AM writes...

I bet the IT was outsourced to India too!!

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20. Anonymous on March 3, 2010 1:14 AM writes...

hi poh thanks

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21. mobile bbq catering escondido on November 14, 2011 1:36 PM writes...

Strange that this debate is veering off to NRIs vs Danny Boyle and co. The point of the debate is simple. Danny wanted to show case some short films along with his movie. He had a collection to choose from and he chose Manjha which had a disturbing theme, realistic and more deeper and thought provoking than his own fairy tale. So why view this decision with coloured spectacles?We have stopped looking for accountability from police, courts, government servants and politicians and are busy debating the business and artistic moves of film makers why so much of misplaced priorities? Is this the reason why there is no progress in India bottom up? If you point out 100 faults in me, i will say thank you and work towards improving them I wouldnt start asking questions why the hell do you care?. I guess quicker we adopt this stand point and look to holding our politicians and government accountable instead of film makers and painters, we have a real route to future. Now that parliamentary elections are nearing lets see which political party owns up and shows commitment to correcting the issues raised by Manjha and its likes.

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22. Vending Machine Business on March 30, 2012 4:47 PM writes...

Rest up and make sure you get to your doctor to make sure youre 100% FWIW last year a gal who ended up in the hospital until 11:00pm that night (Chicago 07) came out and ran a PR marathon the next weekend. Youll be fine, but take care of yourself!

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