Flyagra – driving your GOLF balls further and longer. The Discovery Process in the Pharma Industry is Similar to that in the Golfing IndustryPosted by: Antony Williams in Uncategorized
Copyright©2007 Antony Williams
The Pharma Industry is certainly under a lot of pressure – drugs pulled off the market, job cuts all over the place, sites closed down, and on, and on. Those of us working in chemistry will know the stories…I won’t belabor them.
I read with interest the article “As Drug Industry Struggles, Chemists Face Layoff Wave“. It’s an interesting read especially in regards to the scientist who was involved in developing the world’s most successful drug. I quote “It was at the Ann Arbor facility in the late 1980s that Dr. Sliskovic first assembled the chemicals that make up Lipitor, the cholesterol-lowering drug that has generated about $80 billion in sales since its launch and ranks as the bestselling pharmaceutical product ever.”
Of course it’s “reporting” and the real truth regarding the treatment of people during downsizing etc is always tricky when balancing business decisions and corporate responsibilities with the “human” elements. I’ve been through this as have many of my friends. My personal experience is that corporations need to do a much better job handling the emotional side of this…and money doesn’t do it (though it helps).
What amused me in the report was the following comment from the head of the Chemical Abstracts Service “Robert Massie, president of the American Chemical Society’s database of chemistry research, says some researchers are questioning how many more chemical combinations there are that are useful against diseases. “It’s like how coming out with metal drivers in golf was a huge innovation, but now it’s incremental. You’re just coming out with drivers that are a little longer or rounder,” he says.” (side note….the ACS’ database of chemistry research…hmmm…a little more clarification with the WSJ required!)
Now, knowing that the pharmaceutical industry process of innovation and discovery is similar to that of the golf equipment manufacturers I had to consider the analogy. The drug industry now has the possibility to talk to some of the golf equipment manufacturers for coaching. You don’t hear much about the golf manufacturers laying off staff..especially the big ones. They probably farm most of their manufacturing out to China now (don’t know for sure) but research is done here (wow…the parallels and what might be coming soon). They get big names to advertise for them (Nicklaus for golf and Dr Jarvik for Pharma) and they tend to repackage the same old tool under a different brand name. They do tend to innovate to have things go harder and longer (well, you can make up the parallel). The best golf equipment is for those who can afford it (hmmmmmmm…) and generics for everyone else. What was a new innovation in golf gets genericized and on the shelf at Wal-mart when off patent or licensed out early on (how true in pharma). So…you see the point…many parallels. And of course, golf puts people at risk…only a small percentage have heart attacks on the golf course (as with some drugs), golf can give you benefits while giving side effects (exercise is good but the stress of the game isn’t), you can lose your balls in golf (and your libido with drugs)…and so on.
Maybe the golf-industry learnings can be brought to Pharma… maybe we will have Pfing if Pfizer and Ping merge. Which of the Erectile Dysfunction drugs will be genericized under the name Maxfli and their buzz phrase “Go Long or Go Home?”. Who will purchase this company just to brand name the supporting medicine for the side effects of ED drugs, DogLeg Right?
And yes, there a 100 additional comments I can make about drugs and golf, 100 quips I’d like to make about erectile dysfunction drugs and golf equipment analogies related to Mr Massie’s comment “You’re just coming out with drivers that are a little longer or rounder”- and if anyone wants the list ask me by email. They are more in tune of a barroom discussion than the blogosphereStumble it!