PHARMA: The Industry Veteran responds to “mountebank” Brian Towell

Oh dear.  The Industry Veteran was not pleased about what he read from Brian Towell in THCB two days ago.  And he’s in a particularly feisty (not to mention rude) mood about it! So send the women and children outdoors before you read this:

    The quality of THCB took a precipitous decline yesterday with your decision to print Brian Towell’s display of excrement.  The substantive content of his long, tedious wail consisted largely of his claim that he possesses wiser approaches to drug discovery than the clinicians and bench scientists now working for the pharmaceutical companies.  Maybe so, and maybe he also has a direct line to the Almighty, but somehow I doubt the likelihood that either condition obtains.  The drug discovery wisdom he chooses to impart in messianic tones consist of such claims as: organizing development by therapeutic category limits opportunities for serendipitous discoveries in basic science; blockbusters dontt necessarily come from targeting big patient populations; combinatorial chemistry isn’t the pat answer for drug discovery and; the one pill per genotype approach has major holes.  Well, a dog has four legs and if your parents don’t have any kids, there’s a good chance that you won’t either.  Simply put, anything of value that your countryman says about drug discovery is not new.  Pharma companies big and small are all trying the approaches he suggests to one degree or another.  All senior R&D managers know that we’re dealing with gambling probabilities here and they’re all smart enough to hedge their bets.  Anything that Brian says outside the common practice possesses the value of a three-dollar bill.    I find Brian’s evangelical tone especially annoying.  By turns he adopts postures that are prophetic, beleaguered, resentful and beatific.  It’s charming that you may want to buck up the prospects for a fellow Brit, but this guy reminds of the transplants satirized by Evelyn Waugh.  After leaving the motherland and landing in a country with a looser social structure, he thinks he has arrived over the rainbow.  Like Humbert Humbert at the end of Lolita, Brian probably figures he might as well drive on the wrong side of the road too.     What are you doing giving so much space anyway to a soothsayer on drug discovery?  Let him peddle his shopworn ideas over to DB Medical Rants or some other such site.  I thought THCB focuses on issues involving healthcare access, quality, cost, marketing and ethics.

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