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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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December 14, 2012

LaMattina on Angell

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Posted by Derek

John LaMattina takes on Marcia Angell and her recent interview. It sounds like he made it farther into the podcast than I could:

“The drug companies do almost no innovation nowadays….. All they have to do is the late development. And that’s the clinical trials. Now that is an expensive part of the process. But it is not an innovative part of the process.”

. . .innovation doesn’t only occur in discovery research labs. Translating laboratory science into meaningful clinical science is quite challenging. Yet, many of the new drugs that are now being approved to treat various cancers have been developed through innovative paradigms and experimental methods developed by scientists and physicians in the pharmaceutical industry. For Angell to dismiss this so blithely is insulting.

"Insulting" is the word, and I have little doubt that this is a deliberate feature of Angell's take on the drug industry. Language like this gets attention. It brings in page views; it sells books. It gets you speaking engagements. As far as I can see, you bring in Marcia Angell to watch her attack pharmaceutical companies - that's her niche.

Comments (5) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Why Everyone Loves Us


1. Keith Robison on December 14, 2012 9:32 AM writes...

Derek, you obviously need to correct your recent item on the Syk inhibitor trial. You wrote that this was a head-to-head trial against Humira, but Dr. Angell is quite adamant that pharma always runs their trials comparing to a placebo, so you must have made a mistake!

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2. johnnyboy on December 14, 2012 9:59 AM writes...

Exactly. The first instinct of knowledgeable industry people upon hearing Angell's diatribes is to patiently refute her statements point by point with facts - but this approach is completely futile, as she has built herself and her career up as an attack dog and a pamphleteer, and people like that are entirely immune to facts. Se couldn't possibly accept any fact contradicting her discourse, as it would directly threaten her livelihood.

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3. Perdurabo on December 14, 2012 12:25 PM writes...

There's no doubt that there's a lot that the pharmaceutical field needs to do better. I'm a big critic, but I continue to work to support it because that's the only way the real improvements will be realized. To simply denounce the whole field in it's entirety using baseless claims of conspiratorial greed is of absolutely no use to anyone (except perhaps for Angell's speaking career): it does not illustrate the scientific and sociological issues that need to be addressed, nor does it serve to educate those who are unfamiliar with the field and who may look to gather information from people with "Dr" of "PhD" attached to their name. This is ironic, given that she holds a teaching title at an educational facility. It's like she's a latter-day Neo-Macarthiest with a pharmaceutical flavor. The fact that her arguments are so full of inaccuracies is also telling: if you have to misrepresent the truth to get your point across, then your point is invalid.

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4. drug_hunter on December 14, 2012 6:06 PM writes...

The important question is whether she has any influence with policy-makers. If not, she is just an extreme form of gadfly -- very annoying, shrill, lying, doing some damage, etc. but not the end of the world.

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5. CMCguy on December 14, 2012 7:17 PM writes...

#4 d_h I have no concrete information on this however would observationally suggest Angell and her pharmacritic cohorts have already had influence on many people/groups. Would include legislative and government officials (based on new or proposed laws, hearings, promoting academic drug discovery), AMA, Harvard Med school, media (who constantly echo her statements/conclusions without any counter-balance/truthfulness) and public opinion (who buy the big bad pharma mantra).

The Pharma industry and many individual companies have opened the doors to many fair criticisms thru misdeeds or poor decisions however much of what Angell drivels out is so off the mark it must be challenged and glad bloggers like Derek and LaMattina are effective voices against such crap.

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