Frederick County Biotech Community

Everything Biotech in Frederick County, Maryland

Scientific Fraud and Layoffs

Posted by Jim H on January 25, 2009

A couple of interesting news articles going around this weekend.

I look forward to Jason Balog’s Biotech “blog” in the FNP every month.  He has an interesting take this week talking about the recent layoffs at Pfizer.  The layoffs announced are all in R&D and are attributed to a lack of productivity.  No new drugs in the pipeline and some memorable failures.  As Jason puts it:

At $7.5 billion, Pfizer has one of the largest research and development budgets. But in the last couple of years Pfizer has terminated several high-profile projects and has produced no new blockbusters. Consequently, Pfizer is facing the impending loss of patent protection for its best-selling drug with no product(s) ready to replace the loss.

As internal research and development departments continue to produce disappointing results, management has started to look for external means to fill the pipeline. The result has been a rapidly increasing number of acquisitions of promising molecules or entire operations from smaller companies. However, even with the uptick in acquisitions, internal research and development departments have largely stayed intact.

Pfizer’s recent announcement is therefore more significant than it might first appear. With the recently announced layoffs, Pfizer seems to be tacitly admitting its research and development activity has failed and that a change in how big pharma does business may be required in the future.

So these actions are lock step with the belief that Big Pharma will be looking to acquire a number of small biotechs to grow their product pipeline. For example, AZ acquiring MedImmune right here in our back yard. We also know Pfizer has talked a lot about Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine. If anyone’s listening, I can be bought, cheap. Under 9 figures. Give me a call.

In other, more local news I was reading about Kai Hagen’s rants in the Gazette.  Apparently, he’s the only county commissioner opposed to the Waste to Electricity project.  Even more better, he accuses the other commissioners as relying on “scientific fraud” as a basis of their choice ot support the “Incinerator”.

According to the article:

“The frequent assertion that WTE [waste-to-energy] as we have proposed … helps with our national energy crisis, is more environmentally friendly than practical and economically competitive alternatives or is in any way responsible from a climate change perspective is misguided at best,” Hagen wrote in the e-mail.

“It is a myth that one could reasonably describe as scientific fraud. And to date, too many decision-makers in the county have been complicit in perpetrating that fraud. We can do better than that. And, fortunately, we still have the opportunity to do so.”

Those who read FredCoBio regularly may know I am not a subscriber to the global warming conspiracy theory. Having reviewed the data and the proposed theories and models, none present any compelling evidence that humans are responsible for “climate change”. Certainly climate change is happening. It happens every day. I believe the overwhelming evidence is that the current, and historical, changes are “purely natural” and our ability to predict future “catastrophes” (which are certain to occur whether or not humans inhabit the planet as they have before human inhabited the planet) based upon measurements only possible for the past 25 years (100 years would be stretching it) is not appreciating the scientific method and falsely leading people (i.e. the media) to sensationalize their self fulfilling prophecy in hopes of getting themselves funded. Humans are a part of nature and matter in the universe and matter can be neither created nor destroyed.

My main point in disagreeing with Kai is that this is not a precident setting proposal.  Fort Detrick and Frederick Memorial Hospital (I think) already have WTE incinerators.  It’s common at hospitals and other places that generate a lot of biomedical waste.  Why?  Because sending it to a landfill isn’t an option and handing it over to a waste hauler gets damn expensive real fast.  Oh, and why wait for the waste to decompose and generate Methane, which we’ll gladly harvest and convert to electricity?  Same stuff, different day.  In terms of geological time, not relevant.

And neither are humans.  So y’all might as well come out to BioBeers East ’09 on Thursday 2/12 to celebrate the demise of humanity, extinction of non-beer drinking psychopaths and generally embrace your inner science geek.

PS:  I did not intend to imply that either Jason or Kai are dinosaurs by throwing my rant into this post :-)

9 PM UPDATEPfizer looking to acquire Wyeth for $60 billion.  Yeah, that’s the ticket I was looking to punch…

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