Monday, August 22, 2011
The Art of Deception
Magic is the only honest profession. The pricing of Seattle Genetics new drug is an example of dishonesty in the biotechnology industry. Clay Siegall, their CEO, is good at the art of deception. He holds a PhD and a large number of patents and publications. You might be lead to believe that he is a scientist. He is actually a businessman. He tells you his company is dedicated to unmet medical needs. That is the diversion. While we are patting them on the back for doing something to help mankind, they are plotting to charge us over 100K to have access to their drug.
The trick is not hard to do. The Invisible Gorilla is an example. In the invisible gorilla experiment there are people in white t-shirts and black t-shirts passing a basketball around. You are told to count the number of times the people in white t-shirts pass the ball to each other. While you are counting passes, someone in a gorilla suit walks through the scene. Most people seem to not see the gorilla because their attention has been diverted by the direction to count passes. You are tricked into not seeing something that is quite obvious once you know it is there.
This is how biotechnology operates, and much of the scientific community as well. Biotech CEOs and principal investigators do not wear white lab coats. They do not work in laboratories. They get noticed. They work very hard to gain a reputation that can be cashed in for money. Once the research grant or investment is in the bank, they go out and hire low paid obedient bachelor degreed servants to do the work. The only requirement is that the results must further the career of the leader.
We at the CCS are always looking for that gorilla walking past the screen. Go to the Seattle Genetics website and count white lab coats.
Did you see the businessmen deciding on the price of the drugs and the size of their bonuses?
Magic is the only honest profession.