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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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October 12, 2010

Drug Discovery History

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Posted by Derek

One of the speakers here yesterday recommended Walter Sneader's Drug Discovery: A History, which I haven't read. It looks good, though, for a look back on how we got here. He also showed some drug structure "family trees" from Sneader's earlier book, Drug Prototypes and Their Exploitation. I haven't seen a copy of that one in quite a while, and no wonder: the only copy shown on Amazon is used, for $500. Sheesh.

Comments (16) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Book Recommendations | Drug Industry History


1. Gil Roth on October 12, 2010 8:16 AM writes...

To be fair, it DOES say it's about exploitation.

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2. lynn on October 12, 2010 8:56 AM writes...

Hmmm. Amazon tells me I bought Drug Discovery: A History 2 years ago... I wonder where it is in the bookpiles.

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3. anchor on October 12, 2010 9:06 AM writes...

Derek ; What is Mr. Walter Sneader's background? Is he a lawyer/wordsmith/salesman wanting to get rich and quickly? The price of the book @ Amazon would shame even Mr. Kevin Trudeau.

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4. Chemist on October 12, 2010 9:09 AM writes...

Speaking of drug discovery...

Yay!!! Exelixis is saved!!!

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5. OldLabRat on October 12, 2010 9:24 AM writes...

I thoroughly enjoyed "Drug Discovery: A History" and often refer to it for examples for those new to the field.

@ Anchor: Dr. Sneader, a prof at Strathclyde University, studies drug discovery history. See this link as a small example of his work: I suspect that Kevin Trudeau doesn't really compare. Dr. Sneader's book prices may reflect the demand on a limited publication run.

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6. GC on October 12, 2010 9:36 AM writes...

I looked for Clark's "Ignition!" for 7 or 8 years, until I found a link to a PDF in this very forum. It was similarly priced at Amazon and used book dealers.

I guess it's the comp sci geek, but I'm dumbfounded at how a book can be allowed to "go out of print". Unfortunately, there was an IRS case 15 years or so ago, when they started penalizing publishers for maintaining a back catalog. Sad.

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7. DerekH on October 12, 2010 9:49 AM writes...

Bought Sneader's Drug Prototypes couple years ago - was cheaper then but not by much.
Very very good description of how we came to be hear.
Also everyone should watch Paul Erchlich's Magic Bullet
Shows how basic drug dsicovery principles haven't changed and shows how we nee to get back to those roots.
However the Health & Safety people would have fits, and could use it as a good training film on what not to do in terms of lab safety procedures e.g eating and smoking whilst working on TB for example !
Also show whay and how to break blinded clincial trials !
Derek H.

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8. distantdiamond on October 12, 2010 10:10 AM writes...

Dr. Walter Sneader was a lecturer in the pharmacy dept. at Strathclyde University (when I studied in 1990's) Don't know if he is still there. Interesting lectures.

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9. anchor on October 12, 2010 10:22 AM writes...

Thanks to #5 and #8 for that piece of information. No doubt he is ably qualified to write this book, its price not with standing.

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10. Anonymous on October 12, 2010 11:53 AM writes...

I collect used chemistry books - and yes I know it is an odd hobby. The original cost for Sneader's book (Drug Prototypes) was about ~$75 from the publisher, Wiley. I gave my first copy away and bought a second copy from Wiley two years later at about $125. The pricing for used, out-of-print volumes can vary widey. When some defunct pharma library dumps their volumes on the secondary market frequently an expensive volume will materialize at a very reasonable price. I have occasionally purchased very expensive volumes of Science of Synthesis for under $10. So if you want a specific chemistry volume at a good price just monitor the secondary market web sites. Reasonably priced volumes do show up all the time. Also some used book dealers will negotiate a lower price, so ask for one.

All three of historical books by Sneader on how various drugs were invented are terrific reads for anyone in this business. Although the book review in J Med Chem of the Protype volume was very negative, I find this volume quite useful.

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11. DCRogers on October 12, 2010 12:21 PM writes...

Hey, Amazon has a Kindle version for $55 -- guess it's not the cost of printing keeping the price high! ;-)

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12. S on October 12, 2010 3:24 PM writes...

You can rent "Drug Prototypes and their exploitation" at

Also, the "dealoz" website (previously campusi) is a great place to compare media prices online, especially books.

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13. bcpmoon on October 13, 2010 12:34 AM writes...

As much it is lamented that the digital age leads to cultural memory loss, i.e. a CD is less durable than Linear B on clay, I wonder if this holds for this kind of rare books. For all purposes, a book with a price tag of 500$ is lost for the public and is facing extinction. Perhaps a scanner and a seed does the public a favour.

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14. bucky on October 20, 2010 2:53 PM writes...

Sneader's Drug Discovery: A history - is excellent - I read it a few years ago in probably 4-5 sittings. Highly compelling. I cannot remember it all but made me wish I was born many years earlier- back when drug discovery was easy compared to today!

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15. Walter Sneader on October 26, 2012 3:30 PM writes...

Just a note to point out that it is not the authors who determine the price of their books. it is their publishers!

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16. Walter Sneader on October 27, 2012 3:32 AM writes...

Just a note to point out that it is not the authors who determine the price of their books. it is their publishers!

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