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What is the Future for Drug Discovery?

What is the Future for Drug Discovery

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The future for drug discovery is dark grey. Big Pharma as we know it is going to to die. Only a few brave companies will survive, but only after a painful adaptation to the new reality.

Some are trying to adapt, hoping their pink hammer will fix the situation.

My concern has hit a maximum after reading this article by Simon Campbell (ex-Pfizer)  What is the Future for Drug Discovery in the UK? In it he describes the roadmap pharma industry should follow in order to survive. Some of the ideas are frightening.


A new and sustainable funding model with public sector participation is urgently required for world class UK scientists to invent and develop innovative medicines that meet the medical needs of the 21st Century.

Public money is needed, but the profits will go for the companies, I guess. Does it sound like what happened with banks all over Europe?

We should build a consensus of expert stakeholders with the common objective of informing and influencing future development of world class healthcare innovation in the UK.

Lobbying and creating brain washed scientists is not the most ethical way to create a new future for drug discovery.

The government has stated a firm commitment to life sciences as a catalyst for growth, but emphasis appears to be on clinical trials, biologics and cell therapies rather than on cost effective and orally delivered small molecules that are the bedrock of any healthcare system.

More lobbying. What if “orally delivered small molecules” can’t solve every single disease? Why not to look a bit further from our belly button? What happened to personalized medicine? Prevention? Promoting a healthy life style?

Future R&D should focus on therapeutic areas of significant medical need where transformative new drugs will improve quality of life, and bring economic benefit.

No long tail business in the future for drug discovery, only focus on what makes big bucks.

We must address attrition […] expand pre-competitive collaborations between industry/academia to focus on target selection/validation, predictive toxicology and to identify patient sub-groups that respond to agents with novel mechanisms of action…

This sounds a bit better. Collaborating with academia and targeting certain subgroups of patients.

…These initiatives would reduce risk, simplify clinical trails and lower costs

Ah my friend! We thought they want to target on sub-groups to improve the quality of their products, but it was just to reduce costs and maximize benefits. Stupid me, for a moment I forgot they are here for the money.

A network of Therapeutic Centres of Excellence should be established […] expert medicinal chemists released by industry […] Unused assets from Pharma could be included.

Experienced industrial scientists should be also embedded in world class biomedical centres by creating new chairs in medicinal chemistry

So these released experts working in Centres of Excellence created by Pharma are going to continue to use pharm.’s ideas to push pharm.’s agenda? Or on the other hand are going to push patients’ agenda?

If world class Pharma/Biotech talent is allowed to fade away, it will be extremely difficult to re-build quality in the future.

Many times something has to die so a better version can be born. It can be difficult, like many profound changes, but at the end of the process it will pay off.

Reallocation of current budgets…

Government, Funding Councils and Charities should now invest for future growth, as economic benefits will largely depend on a strong UK drug discovery capability that invents new medicines for world wide commercialisation

Some old school Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt (FUD) to end with. If you don’t give pharma big public bucks we are all screwed. It is again the same situation with banks, they take risks and when in trouble, public money has to be given. This only creates the incentives to be stupid again, since public institutions will take care of you no matter what.


If your only tool is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

“Orally delivered small molecules” is the hammer that pharmaceutical companies have been using for decades. They have realized they only have a hammer. Unfortunately, they are asking public money to paint it pink and try to fix problems now with a pink hammer.

10 Most Viewed Posts From 2011

10 Most Viewed Posts In 2011

This is me in Koh Chang (Thailand) during Xmas 2011 holidays

Dear readers, thanks for coming to my site. These are the 10 most viewed posts in my blog during 2011. I started to blog seriously from September 2011 and I am quite happy with the amount of readers I got in 3 months.


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The Warren Buffett Way To Improve Yourself

Warren Buffett speaking to a group of students...

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We all want to be somebody different. We all look up to someone we would like to imitate. There is so many people, me included, that feel inadequate, not good enough.

All what we want is to be better, improve ourselves. No wonder why self-help books abound in the New York Times’ list of Best Sellers.

The truth is that very few of us do something about it.

But what could be do? Can we just change ourselves automagically?

Well you can improve yourself if you want it really badly, if you feel enough pain.

It all starts by knowing what we want to change, what is it that we want to improve. There are lots of personality traits to work on and we need to focus. Focus. Focus. Focus.

It is not precise enough to say I want to acquire more good qualities and get rid of my imperfection. The key is to know what we want to acquire.

You need to define good and bad personality traits. And Warren Buffett has a great and simple (I love simple solutions) way of figuring out who you want to be.

As an example imagine you want to be more likable. This is, that people want to be around you, that they talk positively about you when you are not there. You want other to associate with you. This is to be a likable person.

Take 5 of your friends or people you deeply admire and describe what is the most prominent personality trait that you like about them. Is it that they listen well? Maybe they think first how to help you instead of their self interest? Are they positive in most situations? Why is it that you feel good when you are close to these people?

Write down their qualities of the people you like. This is what you want to acquire to be more likable.

Now take people you dislike, those that you have a bad gut feeling, those that you don’t want to hang out or make business with. Why is it that you don’t like this people? They don’t keep their promises? Do they look down on others? Are they energy suckers? Do they never speak up their mind? are they trying to be friends with everybody, thus making you not to feel special?

Write down the traits of those you dislike. This is what you want to get rid of to be more likable.

 It’s like switching your to-do and not-to-do lists, for a to-be and not-to-be list.

If you exercise enough the good personality traits, and remove the negative ones, you will turn into a much more likable person. 



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Kill Procrastination Guilt With The Pomodoro Technique

Italiano: Autore: Francesco Cirillo rilasciata...

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Being quite a procrastinator and a time wasting guy is not easy. Many times I feel guilty for wasting my time and my employers money. At least it looks to me I am wasting them. This procrastination guilt kept piling up day after day and the feeling was not a nice one.

When the end of the working days arrives, everything left is a bitter taste in my mouth that reminds me “I didn’t do enough today”. But even having so many unproductive days my bosses think I am still being productive.

How can this be? Are they using a different measurement?

Maybe just quantifying the amount of guilt I had after a day was not a good way to assessing my productivity. Since I tend to be quite hard with myself, perhaps I was doing a bit better than I thought.

Then it came to me, I should have my own way of measuring what a satisfactory day was. I didn’t want to lie to myself and not to base my satisfaction on other people’s opinion.

Basically I wanted two know:

I needed a way to answer two questions:

Has my day been productive enough? 

  • So I don’t need to feel guilty.

Have I been so far today productive enough?

  • So I can go home or start wasting my time guilt free.

And I found the pomodoro technique.

The Pomodoro Technique

  • Work uninterruptedly and hyper focused for chunks of 25 minutes (pomodoros). If somebody/something interrupts restart the pomodoro,
  • Take 5 minutes breaks between pomodoros and a 25 minute break after 4 pomodoros.

My goal was not to do a lot of pomodoros, but just to do enough pomodoros to be satisfied.

How To Get Rid Of Procrastination Guilt

  • Spend 2 or 3 days using the pomodoro technique and working hard.
  • Count the number (P) of pomodoros of each satisfactory day.
  • Try every day to finish P pomodoros, at least.

In my case 6 pomodoros is the minimum to not call it a wasted day. On the upper side, 8 or 9 pomodoros equate to a satisfactory day. 10 or more is a ballpark day. What is your ideal number of pomodoros?

Now when I start late my working day I know how many pomodoros I need to compensate in order to be happy.

The pomodoro technique is also useful if I want to spend part of my time on side projects, I make sure I have finished 6 or 7 pomodoros before hand. Then I can move onto something else guilt-free. It is that simple.

Now I cannot fool or punish myself anymore. And sometimes I surprise myself being more productive than expected.