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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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August 21, 2012

Genentech's Big Worry: Roche?

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Posted by Derek

There's no telling if this is true - it's part of a lawsuit. But a former Genentech employee is claiming that the company rushed trials of its PI3K inhibitor. And why? Worries about their partner:

The suit alleges that the Pi3 Kinase team was guilty of "illegal and unethical conduct" by skirting established scientific and ethical standards required of drug researchers. Juliet Kniley claims she complained in 2008 and then was sidelined in 2009 with a demotion after being instructed to push ahead on the study. And she says she was told twice that Roche would "take this molecule away from us" if they saw her proposed timelines.

Genentech denies the allegations. But you have to wonder if there's still a window here into the relationship between the two companies. . .

Comments (24) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Drug Development


1. Anon on August 21, 2012 7:34 AM writes...

Timeline denialism seems pervasive across the drug development world.

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2. Calvin on August 21, 2012 8:21 AM writes...

Relations between Genentech and Roche are dire to say the least. My understanding is that Genentech staff have to pass a copy of any presentation that Roche might see past their legal department. And at conferences Genentech staff take every opportunity to mention how much they dislike working with Roche or anything. It all seems to come from Genentech though. I've never heard a Roche person publicly diss Genentech. A bizarrely disfuntional relationship it seems.

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3. Curious Wavefunction on August 21, 2012 8:24 AM writes...

Isn't the agreement between Roche and Genentech that Genentech (and its old research culture) would still have control over most discovery-level preclinical work and Roche would step in at the later stages?

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4. Respisci on August 21, 2012 8:55 AM writes...

According to the link below Genentech is influencing Roche although at the end of the article it does suggest that there is competition between the two.

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5. ScientistSailor on August 21, 2012 10:19 AM writes...

The reason GNE scientists poke at Roche is because Roche wouldn't know innovation if it sat on their face and wiggled.

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6. Stochastic Sam on August 21, 2012 10:59 AM writes...

The link ("claiming") points back to this blog posting.

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7. barry on August 21, 2012 11:17 AM writes...

we're talking about a relationship in which one bought the other, not a romance entered by consenting equals. To expect them to relate now freely, as peers is to deny their history.

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8. ex-Roche on August 21, 2012 11:21 AM writes...

"But you have to wonder if there's still a window here into the relationship between the two companies. . ."

Yes, it's a fairly representative window: just see comment #5. The arrogance may be justified in the mAb realm, but the gRED small molecule group may be a different story.

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9. anchor on August 21, 2012 11:22 AM writes...

Seems like a forced marriage! Even where the marriage is born out of mutual love, breakdown is quite common.

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10. Derek Lowe on August 21, 2012 11:30 AM writes...

Fixed the link - sorry!

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11. Quintus on August 21, 2012 11:48 AM writes...

@5, Thanks for that comment. It goes into my book as one of the greats.

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12. Sue Denim on August 21, 2012 1:48 PM writes...

@8 said a mouthful. For a group that has in-licensed virtually every small molecule that they've "discovered" and worries far more about publications than actually producing meaningful results, the gRED group has arrogance in spades.

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13. petros on August 21, 2012 2:17 PM writes...

Well the PI3K inhibitors originated at a small biotech in Slough UK. Piramed struck a licensing deal with Genentech and were subsequently bought by Roche and the site closed

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14. Sue Denim on August 21, 2012 4:28 PM writes...

PI3K = Piramed
Hedgehog = Curis
MEK = Exelixis
Akt & Chk1 = Array

Genentech has perfected the NIH (Not Invented Here) small molecule discovery program.

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15. ScientistSailor on August 21, 2012 4:58 PM writes...

@14 and 8, The PI3K, Hedgehog, and Chk1, clinical candidates were invented at GNE, by GNE-scientists. For PI3K and Hedgehog, early leads were in-licensed, Chk-1 was from an internal screening hit. There is also another series of PI3K compounds that came from internal screening efforts. It is true that they are in collaboration with Array on a second Chk-1 inhibitor.

Please check your facts before you spew nonsense out your pie-hole.

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16. anonymouss on August 21, 2012 5:35 PM writes...

Genentech isn't even particularly good at discovering biologics, at least lately.

Rituxan = IDEC
Tocilizumab = Chugai
TDM1 = Immunogen

The attitude of Mr Sailor seems to be absolutely representative. They're very proficient political operators, whether it's exploiting partners or trashing internal competition. Just ask Nutley.

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17. milkshake on August 21, 2012 7:10 PM writes...

One of the least inventive + pencil pushing baloney spewing chemist turned manager that I met in one of my previous jobs is now (position removed - DBL) at Genentech, she has been with them in the last X years working on small molecule compounds...

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18. skeptic on August 21, 2012 8:40 PM writes...

What's the limit on wrongful dismissal suits? It's interesting that the claim comes almost 1 year after the dismissal.

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19. Anonymous on August 22, 2012 5:19 AM writes...

This is mostly just one more example that results from the pressure to just get something to market. There are examples of drugs that were put on the FDA’s fast track, still waiting for clinical data to back-up their claims of efficacy and there will probably be more.

#5 ScientistSailor “The reason GNE scientists poke at Roche is because Roche wouldn't know innovation if it sat on their face and wiggled. “
Unfortunately it is difficult for many at Roche to see these things clearly when they have their heads stuffed far up their own backsides.

As a former employee it was interesting to see the arrogance of Basel out done by the arrogance of Genentech. Unfortunately Nutley was caught in the middle.
Roche’s main problem now is to overcome its own arrogance and realize that when it bought Genentech it bought a big bag of hot air with some fecal matter and jewels dispersed throughout.
Roche needs to understand what it has and deflate it without getting covered with the fecal matter and losing the jewels.
It will be interesting to watch. They may come to be swallowed by that bag.

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20. DNAer on August 22, 2012 10:44 AM writes...

Why the mean-spirited posts towards Genentech? They've arguably done pretty well, and provide many people, including chemists, an opportunity to still work in this field. As for gRED, it's a mix of in-licensed and home-brewed just like any other successful, decent-sized company. From my internal perspective plus 16 years at other companies, the small molecule effort they've assembled in only the last 5-6 years or so is impressive, it's not reasonable to expect home-brewed small molecule drugs yet. No one is happy about the Nutley site closure, it was Roche's call, they looked at what 10k-size Genentech contributed to 70k-size Roche's bottom line. It's a rough time in our industry, but what good does the venom-spewing do?

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21. anonymouss on August 22, 2012 1:45 PM writes...

@20: I appreciate your calm and reasonable perspective. I'm sure that there are talented and hard-working scientists, including chemists, at Genentech. But why the mean-spirited posts? Look at comment #5 my friend. Insult an entire organization's personnel, most of whom you've never met, in the midst of a devastating layoff? Now that is mean-spirited.

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22. DNAer on August 22, 2012 2:40 PM writes...

I agree that people should be sensitive to what Roche Nutley employees are going through. Most of us can probably relate all too well. But bashing an entire company because of one person's post (#5) about Roche is an unbalanced retaliation. #5 doesn't speak for Genentech.

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23. Anonymous on August 23, 2012 7:55 PM writes...

It happens all the time!

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24. Dr Goldie on September 6, 2012 4:04 AM writes...

@15 - I need to comment on some of this so-called nonsense. Genentech's PI3K inhibitor GDC-0941 that's in Phase I was most definitely made at Piramed. I worked at Piramed and our contribution was certainly not "nonsense"!

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