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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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« Right Up Next to Academia | Main | Broader Impacts Indeed »

July 22, 2011

A Few More Victories Like This, And We Will Be Undone

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Posted by Derek

AstraZeneca has a lot of problems these days, so you'd think that approval of their new anticoagulant Brilinta would be reason for the company to celebrate. Not much, though - see this post at InVivoBlog for more.

A lot of companies have piled into this space over the last ten years, seeking some of those huge, huge Plavix-style revenues. But blood thinning is a tricky business. One step over the line and you're causing more problems than you're helping. And given the heterogeneity of the patient population, you never quite know where that line is going to be. By this point, too, any new therapy is going to have to compete with the generic of tried-and tested Plavix pretty soon. No, anticoagulants of all sorts don't seem to making anyone as rich as they were supposed to. King Pyrrhus would understand perfectly.

Comments (7) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Cardiovascular Disease


1. PharmaHeretic on July 22, 2011 12:27 PM writes...

Do you really think that management cares about the long-term viability of any drug?

It is all good as long as manufactured news can pump up their share options and bonuses for a short time. The long term is for 'suckers' who believe in the system. We now have a society that celebrates open abuse of people's trust and belief in institutions for a quick buck.

But isn't that what unrestrained capitalism is all about? Cheating, screwing over, destroying institutions, maiming and killing people- all done 'legally' with a straight face for a quick buck.

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2. Rick on July 22, 2011 1:06 PM writes...

I don't think this illustrates a Pyrrhic victory so much as it does the Law of Diminishing Marginal Utility (aka Law of Diminishing Returns). But that's a bit of old time thinking from the days when we also accepted that stupid law of conservation of matter and energy. Now, thanks to the miracle of collateralized debt obligations, there's no need to teach diminishing returns in business school when you can attain infinite wealth. No siree, today's markets are only as finite as your imagination and greed.

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3. cirby on July 22, 2011 1:18 PM writes...

"Do you really think that management cares about the long-term viability of any drug?"

Do you think there's such a thing as long-term viability for any modern drug in the first place? It's not like they can plan on making and selling the stuff at full price for the next 50 years.

Brilinta has some advantages, though - it wears in about two days, so you can give it to an ER patient to keep them alive, and you won't have to wait five or six days before performing surgery - this is a huge improvement for critical care medicine. That feature alone will keep it on hospital pharmacy and ER shelves.

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4. DrSnowboard on July 22, 2011 2:21 PM writes...

AZ has about 2 years of long term viability, 2013 it meets the patent cliff and the Medimmune winged suit doesn't seem to have quite the float the price suggested. They'll still be moving the managerial chairs and initiatives for a while yet.

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5. Fred on July 22, 2011 5:49 PM writes...

I asked my doctor about Apixaban and got a passive aggressive pushback that I didn't expect. I thought about it for a while and realized that my doctor is a go along to get along type. He isn't going to upset anyone's money filled apple cart.

Warfarin is touchy stuff to keep in balance. I have a clinic visit and blood test every two to four weeks on their schedule. It takes about five minutes and costs $101 each time. I figure it's costing me $1500 per year.

Any new blood thinner has to compete with the protectors of the clinic cash cow.

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6. peej on July 23, 2011 3:43 PM writes...

Apixiban isnt on the market. That may be why you got the pushback.... dagabatrin is, and for the price, its no better than warfarin.

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7. Drug Wonk on July 25, 2011 11:58 AM writes...

Helped along by a health dose of marketing, doctors generally prefer new drugs to old. Whatever the clinical merits (and there are some!), I predict that Brilinta will sell like hotcakes.

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