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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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April 15, 2010

A Tiny Little Presentation Tip

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Posted by Derek

Protip: making slides that refer to your company's drug as "snake oil" and illustrate its use with a cartoon of witches standing around a cauldron is perhaps unwise. Particularly when you're in Marketing. Particularly when you also include unapproved uses for your drug on the slides. Worth noting, Pfizer.

Comments (14) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business and Markets | The Central Nervous System | Why Everyone Loves Us


1. PharmaHeretic on April 15, 2010 9:45 AM writes...

You cannot fault them for honesty.

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2. anon on April 15, 2010 9:51 AM writes...

i thought you would talk about novartis reorganization today

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3. RB Woodweird on April 15, 2010 10:10 AM writes...

To be fair, the FDA has always been irrationally strict on the prescription of eye of newt.

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4. darwin on April 15, 2010 10:30 AM writes...

While at a previous un-named big pharma company, the RD head crafted email comments with incriminating words from a clincal study results for a drug that was later pulled. Outcome: Head of RD "retired" with $50m deferred compe, options and a research bldg named for them and 100,000+ remaining employees had to take a 3 hour course on proper email etiquette.

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5. GladToMoveToProcess on April 15, 2010 10:54 AM writes...

Astonishing that they didn't know that internal stuff can be brought to light. Twenty-some years ago, I got in slightly warm water for writing, in a draft of a process report, something like "drying the solvated crystals destroys the lattice." Management didn't like "destroys," fearing that the FDA wouldn't like it either. We settled on "disrupts," but I was warned that the FDA could demand ALL drafts of ALL internal documents. (The compound died in long-term tox, so no harm.) The Pfizer folks should have known better!

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6. Pharma Conduct Guy on April 15, 2010 12:47 PM writes...

And who says that pharma marketing people are dishonest?

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7. Anonymous on April 15, 2010 2:46 PM writes...

Pfizer’s Medical Action Communications unit would “recruit KOLs [key opinion leaders] to address multiple priorities simultaneously.”

What's that mean with the euphemisms, erm, disrupted?

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8. job on April 15, 2010 6:57 PM writes...


I used to manage a (non pharma) IT group for a startup in which the language was, shall we say, a bit salty by default. It was the early 90s, has a group of young male techies working 14 hour days in a tiny, closeknit company out to conquer the world, it was the Bay Area, it was my first management job, nobody else seemed to care. In any case, it wasn't just email; we had something over 1K distinct bits of software doing various things, and certain naming conventions had taken hold for related bits of larger systems. The metaphors weren't limited to the actual scripts, apps and bits of glue; this went down to the objects and methods. One gag (hopefully) semi-fit for a family blog I recall involved various things with names like 'Elvis', 'Demerol' and 'toilet'. Most of them were worse.

Anyway, we were eventually taken over by an outfit run by mostly Mormons, and the management was known for being especially strict in their faith. As management at the acquired firm, I was on my way out anyway, but I still recall those meetings during the handoff as some of the most terrifically awkward of my career.

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9. Bored on April 15, 2010 8:50 PM writes...

Derek, you could do a "Things I Won't Work With" on "Henbane" or "Tail of Bat."

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10. China Bonding on April 16, 2010 1:20 AM writes...

#4 I was in that training, it sounded like Al Gore was doing the voice overs!

Imagine someone who wishes ill upon you has access to every email you have ever written and has the ability to take whatever they find out of context and broadcast it.

Emails are forever, and forever can be taken out of context by plantiffs lawyers, for example. Fellow scientists, write with caution.

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11. Sili on April 16, 2010 12:27 PM writes...

Imagine someone who wishes ill upon you has access to every email you have ever written and has the ability to take whatever they find out of context and broadcast it.

Emails are forever, and forever can be taken out of context by plantiffs lawyers, for example. Fellow scientists, write with caution.

Hmmmmmmmm ...

Why does that sound so familiar?


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12. Hap on April 16, 2010 12:44 PM writes...

I love the "out of context" line - it's sort of like calling "Check" on yourself in a chess match.

If there's a context in which these PowerPoint slides make sense (other than as a "How Not To Talk to the FDA" slideshow, and even then, I'm sure they could have chosen far less damaging examples), which doesn't require overdoses of mind-altering drugs to parse, and which doesn't appear to be a cynical call to oversell medications, I'm sure a lot of people would be interested. I don't think, however (as in almost all "out of context" calls), that I'll be holding my breath waiting for one to be described.

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13. big red bruce on April 16, 2010 5:13 PM writes...

Probably hired a few leftovers from consumer side who came up with New Coke! Another presentation tip for them, wear socks that match.

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14. Anonymous on April 21, 2010 2:47 AM writes...

You have to remember that this was a pitch from one group of marketing guys to another. They don't get the science stuff. They need to keep it simple so the other other stupids can understand. That's why we scientists love them so much.

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