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  • Why Everyone Loves Us

    As Others See Us

    The “us” of that title refers to those of us in the drug industry (a reasonable percentage of my readers, but far from a majority.) Many may have noticed that Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal had two two articles side-by-side under the “Politics and Policy” heading. They made an interesting (and surely non-accidental) con… Read More
  • Chem/Bio Warfare

    Chemical Warfare, Part Five: The Real World

    The previous posts have been a quick tour around the chemical weapons landscape. I have to say, it’s a depressing place to visit, and I’ll be glad to leave it. But I can’t do that without some thoughts on what, in the end, the stuff is good for. Well, killing people, obviously. Or threatening to… Read More
  • Chem/Bio Warfare

    Chemical Warfare, Part Four: More On Nerve Agents and Their Chemistry

    A good short history of Tabun and other nerve agents, largely based on this book, can be found here. To summarize, in 1937 a report on Tabun made its way to the chemical warfare branch of the German military, and its value was recognized quickly. Gerhard Schrader’s group was moved to new laboratory space and… Read More
  • Chem/Bio Warfare

    Chemical Warfare, Part Three: How Nerve Agents Work

    Descending past mere irritants and past disfiguring killers, we arrive at the bottom of the pit. These are compounds that are to humans what a spray-can of insecticide is to flies. I mean that literally. Back in the 1930s, a group at IG Farben in Germany was searching for new classes of compounds to kill… Read More
  • Chem/Bio Warfare

    Chemical Warfare, Part Two: Lethal Agents (Other Than Nerve Gas)

    We’ll cover three World War I compounds, saving the latter-day nerve agents for a separate posting. 1915 was a terrible year, one among many, because it saw the advent of militarized chlorine, followed shortly by phosgene. Those two (though technically obsolete) are still in play, because their manufacture is so low-tech. Mustard gas (bis(chl… Read More
  • Chem/Bio Warfare

    Chemical Warfare, Part One: Introduction

    I don’t often deal with politics and world events on this site (much less than I thought I might when I started it.) There are usually plenty of other worthy writers out there who are saying just what I would, so I’ve settled on science (and the business of science) as my ecological niche in… Read More
  • Business and Markets

    Caveat Lector

    Mentioning that interview brings something else to mind: the state of most public information about various drug companies, their pipelines, and their prospects. I’m not just talking about how mixed-up many popular press stories get (that’s a subject for another day, though.) This is sort of a sequel to the August 26th posting (“M… Read More
  • "Me Too" Drugs

    Merck and Its Competition

    There’s an interesting interview up at Business Week’s site with Anthony Ford-Hutchinson, a Merck research honcho. Much of the interview is routine: “How’s the new drug for XYZ coming along?” “Why, just fine!” But he does get in a few good cuts: Q: How would you describe the culture of Merck’s researc… Read More
  • Drug Development

    You Don’t Hear “Eureka” That Often

    I actually wasn’t at work today – took the day off so that we could take the kids to the zoo. That probably means that something important happened; these things always seem to take place when I’m out of town. And the rest of the time something important happens in the lab, I generally don’t… Read More
  • Patents and IP

    The Patent Expiration Fun Continues

    Meanwhile, Merck has a patent fight of its own going on. Their osteoporosis drug Fosamax (alendronate) is being targeted by Teva and Barr, but Merck (not surprisingly) has been filing suits against both of them over the last few months. The Barr lawsuits are in New York, Teva’s is in Delaware, and we might see… Read More