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Drug Industry History

Two From Glaxo’s Old Days

Two of the scientists behind Glaxo’s rise have passed away recently, within a couple of weeks of each other. There’s John Bradshaw, who joined Allen and Hanburys in 1971. He was the chemist who discovered Zantac (ranitidine) in 1976. Later, he moved into computational chemistry and made a key insight that led to the discovery of Salmeterol, one of the two drugs that make up Advair. Not many people have ever put their fingerprints on two bigger compounds in one medicinal chemistry career.
And closely intertwined with these projects, and with at least five others that made it to market, was pharmacologist Sir David Jack, who’d joined Allen and Hanburys ten years earlier. Remarkably, he kept up his research in the field after retirement, and a compound he championed (RPL554) is even now in clinical trials from Verona Pharma.
Discoveries, never forget, don’t make themselves. They’re made by people, and it’s well worth paying attention to people who’ve made several. Odds are that they are (or were) doing something right. . .

7 comments on “Two From Glaxo’s Old Days”

  1. Hap says:

    Will anyone get the chance to make several? It seems like being the discoverer of a big drug only means that people notice and commiserate when your company lays you off.

  2. Robur says:

    Really good to see this post.
    It does seem more important than ever to recognise the difference that individual scientists can make in this Industry.
    I’d argue that it’s up to all of us to believe we can continue to do so. Yes, times are very hard, but then again no harder than the nature of our task. We should never lose sight of the opportunity we have to change the world.

  3. anon says:

    Never had the chance to meet either, but wonder what they would think of what is going on in the current organization R&D. Will be interesting to see how Vallence’s plan works out for the redeployed – have heard “trust us” WAY too often lately, seriously thinking of getting out of chemistry if it appears to be a reasonable path forward.
    Chemistry in US/EU appears to be a dying field – too big of a market in China/India for companies to ignore, labor costs cheaper, and lesser environmental restrictions. Just the current reality.

  4. cadder says:

    wow, a computational chemist making key insights to the discovery of salmeterol… i can’t believe my eyes… perhaps a good answer to your previous “old med chem view” post on modeling http://pipeline.corante.com/archives/2011/11/07/wheres_the_best_place_to_apply_modeling_to_drug_discovery.php
    hail hail the lucky ones

  5. Anonymous says:

    What a contrast between these guys who really shaped the industry for the better and the likes of Slaoui, Vallance, Baldoni et al who are now in control! It’s sad to see how such an important industry has been brought down by mega-mergers, poor management and runawy egos and arrogance!

  6. Anonymous says:

    Baldoni is the biggest Jerk of all.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Baldoni is the biggest Jerk of all.

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