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Saturday, January 08, 2011

What Works

Biogen Idec runs in the black. It generated $4.37 billion in revenue in 2009, and has a workforce with 4,275 employees at last count. The R&D budget was about $1.3 billion in 2009.

Despite all that, Biogen hasn’t been able to deliver a new FDA approved product since natalizumab (Tysabri) in 2004. The lack of R&D output has prompted blistering critiques from billionaire investor Carl Icahn, who accused the company in 2009 of suffering from “failed leadership.”

Last year was the first time in a decade that Pfizer Inc., the world’s largest drugmaker, as well as Merck, Eli Lilly & Co. and Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., each failed to win regulatory backing for a new molecular compound.

The airplanes did not come!

Leadership? Finance experts telling scientists how to do their job? Businessmen who run companies have all the answers as to why scientists in their organizations aren't producing. But what about this?

Brain plaques, long considered the chief killer of brain cells and the cause of Alzheimer's disease, may actually play a protective role under a new theory that is changing the way researchers think about the disease.

Imagine that. Scientists have been trying to treat a disease by possibly attacking a protective response by the body.

Scientists in biotech succeed all the time. For example, if you have an protein drug, scientists successfully identify cleavage products that are considered impurities. Next the scientists successfully remove those impurities. Science, when properly applied, gets the job done.

What have drug companies mentioned above been missing? Perhaps they could hire a team of scientists to look into what targets are taking them down the wrong road. The "experts" have lead the drug manufacturers into the state they are currently in. Perhaps a new biotechnology could one day arise that sells unbiased assessments of the path they are currently on. No Yes Men!

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