Friday, February 28, 2014

MRSA & Super-bug Business Opportunities just begging for some attention!

Note: I have not posted here in nearly a year now. That is about to change. When I have been off something, I like to ease in, rather than rush in. So, I am going to post a few quick posts here. Please leave your thoughts and comments.

While tried and tired business opportunities for devices dry up, there are some that are being discovered, though one gets the feel that some of these were simply ignored. HealthDay is reporting a freshly minted publication in February's Mayo Clinic Proceedings. This study details how researchers tested physicians examining patients with stethoscopes, and found out that the diaphragms are second only to fingertips in terms of picking up bacteria! Now, is that eye catching or what?

The Opportunity? A simple solution for the Developing and Developed World, of course would be to sanitize the diaphragm between patients. However, how about a single-use, disposable, sterile sleeve that one quickly throws on the diaphragm and then discards after use?

Caveats? Before you get very excited though, remember it is just one brainstorm. And while you can undertake your own ensuing idea storming, I will just offer a few caveats to consider:

1. Why would this sleeve be more attractive than, say, just sanitizing the stethoscope diaphragm? Obviously you have to provide compelling solutions.

2. How would you ensure that the sleeve is removed after a single use? This can be designed in.

3. Who pays? Reimbursing preventive care can always be a bit tricky.

4. How will you stay competitive?

As you can see, any opportunity comes with its issues. MRSA and other drug-resistant antibiotics represent a grave danger for humans going forward, and there are huge market opportunities to be conquered.

Reference: HealthDay Article

Tags: #medical #devices #superbugs #MRSA #drugresistance #drug #resistance #business #opportunities #market #brainstorming #ideastorming #blog #weblog

Friday, April 12, 2013

Brief: Anthem Blue Cross is unbrazen as it's vindictive business practices lay exposed in California

Note: I don't have much time nowadays so I am switching to quick updates on key issues rather than wait till I have time to post in the long form I am used to.

I first came across this article on the erstwhile ducknetweb, and it makes for an incredible read. I generally do not like reproducing other peoples' hard work as a blog post, but I think Anthem Blue Cross's vindictive business could use all the bad publicity it can get, especially since they plan to appeal a decision against them, rather than apologize to the victims, including the Doctor they rejected from their network and the several patients on whose behalf he fought with Anthem Blue Cross.

Jeffrey Nordella, a doctor who doubled as a patient advocate stood up against Anthem Blue Cross when they rejected patient claims. He put up a brave fight, and in return Anthem Blue Cross barred him from participating in their network. The Supreme Court of California had clearly stated in a 2000 case that when insurance companies kick doctors out of their network, they must give them due process.

Such minor details or a clear verdict from a jury are of no consequence to Anthem Blue Cross apparently. Read for yourself.

I am going to post the links here, and I hope that you will go through them, read and understand what happened here, and, if you happen to be in a similar situation, you will be ready for a long fight!

Links:

1. http://ducknetweb.blogspot.com/2013/04/doctor-wins-38-million-dollar-law-suit.html

2. http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-anthem-doctor-verdict-20130410,0,2796259.story

Monday, April 01, 2013

Brief Reminder: Autism Awareness Month

Hello there! It has become nearly impossible to write because of a couple of key projects I have been involved in. Therefore I am trying to write very very briefly to try and keep blogging and hopefully increase the frequency as time passes.

April is Autism Awareness Month. It is a great time to learn about Autism, identify new research and talk to people about expelling common myths. Here is a good place to start:

http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/index.html

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Myriad Decision: When commonsense took leave of American Jurisprudence

If you thought America's problems were the first-to-invent vs. first-to-file, or the Apple-Samsung trial or the medical device tax as various golf-playing company executives and clueless Republican Congressmen from Indiana would have you believe...you are wrong. The American legal system's problem is...what appears to be a disastrous lack of baseline commonsense! Why would I go ahead and say that?

If like me, you have been reading the real news instead of Taylor Swift and the Kennedy she is dating or why Shia Labeouf and his girlfriend threw a lachrymal part on the streets, you have already heard about the Myriad decision.

Irresponsibility - A systemic problem

From Antonin Scalia to Tom Head, an otherwise inconsequential Judge in Texas who predicts a civil war if Obama is re-elected, the American Judiciary system is full of some very irresponsible individuals. The fact that the country and her future rests in the hands of such people can best be described as appalling. And now the Myriad decision comes as sound proof of what a mix of lack of scientific education, ethical responsibility combined with partisan judges can do for the future of science, technology and ultimately business in this country.

Nature is not an excuse

In the Myriad case, allowing the company to patent BRCA1 and BRCA2 the judge writing the majority opinion wrote - “Everything and everyone comes from nature, following its laws, but the compositions here are not natural products. They are the products of man, albeit following, as all materials do, laws of nature.”

If you read that as if he was interpreting that breast cancer is man-made. The statement also seems to open the doors for people to patent minor variations on naturally occurring substances. However, the problem is a bit deeper. Somehow a collective majority of judges at an appeals court don't even seem to have the level of scientific background that a 6th grader would be expected to have. 


Dangerous Precedent

This ruling sets a very dangerous precedent! If uninformed judges are allowed to get carried away and make such poor decisions, then the life sciences industry will truly be in shambles. And this is not some conspiratorial warning for the future - it is already here. Unless a full appeals board or the Supreme Court strikes it down, you will have a whole bunch of patented genes. What will this lead to? The answer is blindingly obvious:

1. Research will be stifled. If something as basic as BRCA1 or BRCA2 is patented, then who would want to continue research and drug development that influences either gene? 
2. If someone did want to conduct research, what would they have to do? License the very act of handling, using or talking about the genes from Myriad? How stupid is that?
3. It is not a stretch to conceive that people will start patenting SNPs (Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms) and make even simple diagnoses fall out of the reach of the masses. 

There are several other small and large disturbing possibilities. 

Protecting ourselves from the judges...

Now that we know a bunch of geniuses are stalking the halls of American Justice, we need to find ways to make sure that research and industry make progress despite them and not because of them: 

1. Get Congress to pass specific laws barring naturally occurring genes from being patented.

2. Carefully examine how judges get elected to the various echelons of the judiciary.

3. Establish procedures and guidelines that will quicken the process of censuring runaway judges and if possible, impeach them, or nudge them to retirement.

4. Be vigilant about for-profit companies that would constantly want to find loopholes and exploit them. This one seems so obvious, and yet, it cannot be emphasized too much. 

References:

1. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/17/business/court-reaffirms-right-of-myriad-genetics-to-patent-genes.html?_r=2







Thursday, August 09, 2012

India's Pharma FDI Mess...



A note: "Apothecurry" - a blog with a very creative and meaningful name is my favorite blog to get some nifty scoops  on the status of the Indian pharma industry, and I suppose what the Indian Government is doing to it...

You can find the blog linked at the end of  the post.


The question everyone wants to ask: Why is the Indian Government f*ing up the pharma industry?

Among other things they have done:

1. They forced Bayer to license a Cancer drug in a very ambiguous manner. Bayer is no saint, the proposed drug cost and their stance is a direct evidence of either greed or self-loathing inanity - hard to say.

2. They have made a pledge to provide free drugs to India's teeming millions without a proper plan or even the semblance of one...

3. Now, they have threatened Foreign Direct Investments, and, according to Apothecurry, in quite a disparate manner.

Bringing the License Raj back:

Well, not the TBBT Raj, but the much maligned "License Raj", the practice of requiring companies to obtain licenses and burying them in reams of paperwork, promoting corruption, stifling even a whiff of innovation and essentially choking an industry.

Apparently, various arms of the Indian Government have their own plans to stuff their hand in the cookie jar. First apparently the Commerce Ministry wants every foreign investor to go through an intermediary agency called the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB).

A group of folks from various ministries, on the other hand have suggested that this hell befall only those foreign investors that dare seek more than 49% of a local pharma company. Either way, this is not good news for the Indian pharma industry.

Pharmaceutical Xenophobia

As with everything else, independent India simply misunderstood and maligned Gandhi's "Swadesi" exhortation. Untimely as his death would have ever been, were he to live today, he would pooh-pooh the anti-foreigner sentiment being used to gain popularity and votes while burying real issues.

You would think in a failing economy, the Indian Government, led by none other than Manmohan Singh, famous for bailing India out of the License Raj would not even think of suggesting protectionism.

However, like any other Government, they would like to blame their failings on someone else and thus would have you believe that India's impoverished healthcare system is a consequence of unscrupulous FDI. They may be unscrupulous, yes, but the bulk of the problem, all the way from apathy to lack of vision and corruption rests solely with India.

Whither India?

Someone should tell Sonia Gandhi, Manmohan Singh and their bandwagon of daylight dreamers that the Indian economy is not on a bed of roses. Rather than ease restrictions and make it easy for investor money to flow, the Indian Government is looking to take the country back and plunge it into the same darkness as the energy grids.

If they worry foreign investors would get carried away, they should put forth legal barriers, not imbue some Russian-Venezuelan axis of Xenophobic Hell on Earth.

If this continues, we will see that India's healthcare reach suffers worse than ever, drugs get pulled off the market, or never get into the market and the industry will whither away with stiff external competition.

Reference:

http://apothecurry.wordpress.com/2012/08/08/fdi-in-pharma-another-punch/http://apothecurry.wordpress.com/2012/08/08/fdi-in-pharma-another-punch/

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The more obvious ACA - India connection: The windfall to Indian IT

If you are unaware of the Supreme Court decision last month, you are either completely disconnected from the US or are a very successful cave-dweller.

There are several groups benefiting from this decision, all the way from insurance-starved Americans to stir-crazy Tea Party loonies, otherwise known as the GOP. And yes, no matter the amount of fake tears that AdvaMed sheds and its senseless parrots mimic, medical device makers and the pharmaceutical industry are also going to benefit immensely. Sensing huge windfalls, the health insurance industry has also reacted with hidden glee.

However, one important connection has not been made very obvious. Of course, in an election year, who would want to tout the fact that a whole host of Indian IT companies would be making money from a successful US bill? I always knew that EHR/EMR start-ups and Indian companies would benefit from the Affordable Care Act (ACA) -  the numbers seem to be surprisingly low, at least if you were to believe Economic Times.

A luke-warm $5.4bn!


In the truly egregious manner in which most Indian newspaper articles espouse information, analysts who are elevated to "experts" (although the article, linked below does dole out some borderline-pertinent comments) mention that the Indian outsourced software and IT industry would see about  1.2 lakh crores (frustrated by the strange units? Well, that is how the rest of the World feels about FPS) or $5.4bn from the ACA. The analysts from Everest Group, apparently also believe that the true "potential" for this market could be $22bn, which still appears low.


If you look at how big the EHR/EMR and other Medical IT market is going to be over the next decade in the US, one wonders if they mean annually? Understandably, NASSCOM, the Indian IT equivalent of AdvaMed (though not so self-involved) predicts that health based BPO only accounts for 4% of the overall industry, and that it can go up to 11-14% of the total outsourcing business. 


Higher Possibilities or Poor Vision?


While a single article does not a trend make, it would appear that the Indian IT industry is still stuck on "serving" rather than "leading". This is probably why the numbers appear too low to me. The companies are still probably stuck in the "Y2K" mode - calculating how many L1 and H1 visas they can snag and how they can benefit from innovation that comes out of the US. It would appear to me that the Indian IT industry and India in general has much farther to go before they can develop leadership in the true sense. 


It is not that Indians lack creativity, innovation, or simply the power to invent. Leadership has a little more to it by way of ingredients, and I believe this is where the Indian industry with its mob mentality, focused on 90-day cycles is giving in. 


An opportunity for the US that the GOP will take away?


Technically, the lack of Indian leadership in IT is an opportunity for entrepreneurs in the US to look past election-year rhetoric. 


34th time is a charm, no the 35th is, or the 36th...


33 times - that is the number of times the GOP in Congress has tried to repeal the healthcare law. Obviously, this creates unnecessary pall over the healthcare industry, ranging from traditional pharma and medical companies to new and innovative Health 2.0 companies. Over the long term, this could only get worse. Surprisingly, having sided with the GOP on the immensely disastrous attempt to repeal the law, now, on the verge of benefiting from all the effects that ACA will have, I am sure, the industry is tearing its hairs apart over all the uncertainties this constant invective on "Obamacare" is causing to future profits and the very fundamentals of growth in the healthcare industry.


Who will win? India, the US or someone else?


India should take a real close look and see how they have managed to water down a major business bonanza into $22bn or worse $5.4bn. True leadership would mean India turning herself into a leader and direct rather than follow world IT by simply serving as the Global IT bellhop. This might mean fostering indigenous entrepreneurship, doing away with the listless Congress Government, giving the BJP a stern warning that they will go the same route if they don't liberalize; importing Indian talent that has left shores, creating an environment where others would like to come and play - look at Start-Up Chile! There is much work to be done, none of which should involve a lengthy, strategic plan to grovel to others.

As for the US, the democrats need to tout their successes over the past four years, get over the election hoopla and look for true action - reforming legal immigration, realizing that low cost outsourcing is here to stay and fostering innovation. The ACA is only the first step. They should work to put a lid on all the nonsensical lobbyists, stop pussyfooting on efforts to strengthen the FDA and enact other laws key to creating a truly lasting, healthcare solution. Otherwise, if it is not India, it will be someone else!


Look out for more posts on the US and India...


Reference:


http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2012-07-03/news/32523799_1_healthcare-sector-healthcare-insurance-captive-bpo-unit?utm_source=Digital+Medicine+India&utm_campaign=516ff60956-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email

Thursday, February 23, 2012

India's drug discovery innovation prognosis is "poor". Is anyone surprised?

I know the last post was also about India. With all the action in India, it is quite tempting to write a lot more India-specific posts. I have saved a few US-specific and generic posts that I hope to roll out in the near future, time permitting.
Outsourcing does not equal innovation


Yes, no blog post on India looks good without a cute image of India's flag. Well, moving on, a research group analyzed patents in the US that originated from India and of over 4,000 patents, found only 20 originated from Indian CROs, and that too were limited to chemistry and shared between two non-US companies that owned the bulk of the IP.

The study and the article based on it (on which this post is based) concludes that India's traditional strength is in chemistry and the whole thing doesn't bode well for the biopharmaceutical industry in India.

Innovation from India - A deeper problem!


India's lack of prowess in drug discovery, or for that matter any field arises from deeper issues.

1. License Raj: Though large portions of this has been eliminated, the damage that the British did and the fact that Indians loved and embraced bureaucracy almost like extremely bored lovers embrace bondage; that too for decades has not helped. Red tape has smothered and choked India quite a bit, and there is no quick way out of this. However, this needs to happen, forming companies, doing research and innovating need to speed up before all of this becomes too expensive to do in India's inflated economy.

2. Geriatric Politicians: Indian politics has devolved into a weird two-party system at the national level and a million party system at the regional levels. It is also scintillated by politicians who are not just physically old, but are also intellectually too old in their world view for the 21st century. Many have no ability to lead India in any positive direction. They lack the ability to take charge and challenge other nations.

3. "Adaptive" Design a.k.a copy the lead: Excepting start ups, and that too the select few that are really good, many companies in India simply copy designs, strategies and everything else. Yes, this disease plagues a lot of companies in the US and China as well, but in India, as a young undergraduate student, I found out that rampant plagiarism was given a cute name - "Adaptive Design" and was being openly discussed and glorified in conferences and even in educational settings.

Of course, there are several other factors, but suffice it to say, the above are among the top handful reasons that prevent India from innovating and truly breaching leadership in drug research, and for that matter any business field.

Car-sharing for prison inmates

Yes, Zipcar may have been original. True differentiation, however does not come from repeatedly copying that one model. Unless companies look for original innovation, and not yet another car-sharing service for prison inmates, philandering priests or people with no driving skills, they will not be able to forge new paths for any vertical - be it a region or nation. Innovation does not equal also-rans. Rather it requires truly disruptive changes.

Easy Money Vs. Longevity 


Indian politicians, economists, policy makers and founders need to understand this. It is easy to work under duress to make money and carve out a space for oneself. There is a need for companies to plan for the long term. It is perfectly alright for companies to make that easy money initially. However, unless they come up with strategic plans, they will be nothing but glorified call centers, CROs or cheap urine-sample analyzers. I kid you not, there are companies in India that can analyze urine-samples flown all the way from Britain at a cost lower than you could get it done in Britain!

What does drug discovery innovation take?


Drug discovery, needless to say is quite challenging. It will take deep knowledge in biological sciences, pharmaceutical sciences, chemistry, biotechnology and not by any small means innovation in software for success. With increasing expenses, most of the big pharma companies face additional challenges that arise from the "patent cliff". Of course, besides being a glorious opportunity for third-grade MBAs doubling as C-level executives that can lay off hardworking scientists, engineers and others, it is truly something that these companies have to grapple with.

While the "what" of drug discovery innovation can fill a few books, it is essential that innovations in science and business need to be combined with good vision and long term focus for drug discovery success, and this is true of the entire world, and not just India. With literate, cheap English-speaking labor in all strata starting from management to science, engineering and manufacturing available in large volumes, India should not lose this opportunity to some other nation.

Conclusion: India, obviously needs someone to take bold steps and move the country forward deliberately into the 21st century. Who will do this? Will it be the politicians? Will it be the start-ups? Or like most things in and about India, will it be spontaneous?

I know, as I write this post, it is much easier to simply criticize, complain and point out the errors. However, a change in psyche is necessary. As stated above, the recipe for success should at least include:

1. A younger generation of nimble entrepreneurs with nimble companies that simply flout the status quo and hierarchy that is loved in India and forge forward with innovative, groundbreaking ideas

2. Academic institutions that break free from the familiar mold and equip students with the right knowledge and incite hunger for innovation among students

3. An awakened nation with policy makers, politicians and others who will not rest till India puts herself in the map, be it through innovation in business models, discovered drugs or tools that lead to any of these endpoints and beyond.

Reference:

1. http://www.outsourcing-pharma.com/Preclinical-Research/India-needs-innovation-boost-to-kick-start-drug-discovery-study

Images:

1. http://quickmeme.com/

2. http://etc.usf.edu/clipart/69700/69772/69772_q-victoria.htm

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

India gets her own stem cell hosptial

This was an interesting, albeit expensive tidbit I saw today...India is apparently getting a INR 90 crore hospital, dedicated solely to stem cell treatments. At the outset, it appears to be a cool idea. The plans call for the Government to spend all of the money required to build the hospital, with an initial investment of  INR 30 crores in the first year.

The partner, is Giostar, or Global Institute of Stem-cell Therapy and Research, based in San Diego. Not much information is available, but it appears that quite a number of the founders are of Indian origin.

IMO, the plan itself seems to capitalize on the difference between the dollar and the rupee, the growth in India, its large population with a variety of disease presentations (which yours truly discovered by doing some ear to the ground empirical research in 2006) and of course, looser regulatory infrastructure on the part of the Government. Mind you, this is just my guess work.

However you look at it, this appears to be a good idea and a win-win situation for everyone involved. Of course, given the obscurity of Giostar (at least in my run of the mill attempt at learning more about them), the Government is taking a bigger risk right now. Should it pay off though, Surat and consequentially India will become quite the stem cell research hub though.

The Regulatory Atmosphere: For a young India, unable to grasp its own might, and lacking the leadership, this just might be the break. After all, India has fallen behind and stayed behind China in almost every way. However, unlike China, hopefully the regulatory environment will mature faster than the various "stem cell" hospitals that are about to proliferate.

Unless you have been hiding in some biotech cave, China recently started clawing back on all the fake and ineffective stem cell studies that have showed up there. As of now, most countries have a reactionary philosophy towards regulations. The recent deaths due to contaminated drugs in Pakistan can only serve as a grim reminder!







References:

1. http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2012-01-30/surat/31005286_1_cell-technology-sickle-cell-new-civil-hospital-campus

2. http://www.giostar.net/

3. http://wpclipart.com/

4. http://www.freeusandworldmaps.com/html/Countries/Asia%20Countries/IndiaPrint.html

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Calling BS on the link between tax increases and medical device innovation...

I know I haven't posted here in months. Things have been quite busy and I am unable to write as much as I would like. That said, I wanted to leave 2011 with a "I told you so" post, so that I can come back and harp on this later.

Is money the problem with innovation?

How does more money equate innovation? Is it the same expectation as throwing many monkeys in a room with a bunch of keyboards and expect them to produce great literature? It probably is. Has it ever worked? Maybe you will get a couplet out of it, but can you expect a sonnet?

Is laying people off the most innovative solution to increased taxes?

I am not at all for increasing taxes. However, how else would you expect incomes to come in to pay to allow more Americans to access health. One "large" organization is claiming that it will lay off 1000 employees to pay for the taxes. Now, is this really the way to innovation? They can't cut other costs? 

When costs increase, do you skip meals, or skip the movie outings? Every lay-off is grounds to believe that the CEO and management has probably failed TWICE. Why twice? First, they probably did some very inefficient hiring, and secondly they chafe responsibility. 

Well, you have to ask yourself this. Why did they hire a 1000 employees too many? First of all, it never happens to be that much, and secondly, yes, it happens - employee functions disappear and such, but more or less, this is just because the "management" in most of these organizations is an old boys (and girls) club and they want to get rid of well meaning employees, rather than cut from a management.

Shouldn't a performance failure directly mean management failure?

The Cisco Example

Look at the CEO of Cisco. The company was in dire straits in 2011 directly because of his narrow mindset, heck, his inability to produce results. Why mince words? Yet, he got to lay off thousands of jobs and keep his. Ask yourself...

The HP Example

HP had it going for a while. They bought worthless companies, hired duds and kept sending them off with golden parachutes. When things got hot though, what was their solution? Well, they brought Meg Whitman, of the "I took the eBay stock and rubbed it in kaka" fame, and "I hired an illegal immigrant and decided to run for a Governor on behalf of the people opposed to that" fame as well in as the CEO. Here is the kicker - she was on the board that made all the poor decisions in the first place!!!!

What are the real roadblocks to innovation?

A 2.3% tax increase is not the reason why innovation in medical device design is going to retroactively die, as John Kartch and Stephen MacMillan would like to misinform you. Let us look at some real issues:

1. The mid-life crisis - monkey see, monkey want

There were some innovations in the industry, and then for the most part, they tend to poke out their head out of the vast desert stands of the medical device industry every so often. Why so? 

This was a problem in 2007, it is very much a problem even now. One stent succeeds marginally, of course the success is called phenomenal at first, and everyone wants to build a stent company. A catheter company succeeds and of course everyone wants to build...well, you get the point, monkey see, monkey want, monkey try, body not agree, monkey blames taxes, the FDA, the Mayan calendar, everything except self...

There is no attempt at real innovation here, just a need to create copycats. You can see it in the companies, their names and even their job advertisements - Wanted: Someone who has designed 233 catheters and wishes to design their 234th; slavery a must, peanuts optional...

Innovative, no?

2. Crash and Burn - VC style..


The Venture Capitalists who got there with almost nothing but sheer luck and no nothing about devices have their own plan. Under-fund a company on crappy me-too ideas, going after diseases and devices just before they get to the "also-ran" point, and demand quick results that lead you to King Solomon's mines...

The companies that are lucky enough to get this money go after said diseases and devices in a rushed manner, fail and then give the whole thing a bad name, making it bad for anyone trying to go after this a second time around.

And then of course the VCs bandy together and blame regulations for the failures of their minion companies...

3. Taking the wrong risks and avoiding the right ones


Innovation is risky business. By treading the familiar path, you will never innovate. You have to branch off, go against the flow and all that to actually change the way something happens. You really, really cannot do anything but micro-innovate your way to success.

The easy way out, is to blame Obama, the tax man, the regulations, heck even the Mayans and their calendars...and this, is what I am calling BS on...

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Blog Action Day - Blogging for Food...

I am proud to be taking part in Blog Action Day OCT 16 2011 www.blogactionday.org

Today is blog action day and I received an email just last night about this. I don't have much by way of content, but I thought raising awareness is not much about content, but lending a voice. 

Food is one of the three essentials of life, as anyone would know. There is one fact I learned earlier this year, that has stuck by me and given me much reason to think. 

Did you know?

About 30% of the food prepared for human consumption is never consumed!

Now juxtapose with all the hungry people of the world, the children, the elderly and many in between that never will have access to good food. Is our waste warranted? 


Here are a few simple actions I pledge:

1. Plan ahead and only buy sufficient ingredients that will not be thrown away because of expiration.

2. Order only the amount of food I know I will be able to eat.

3. Try to cook only the quantity I know I will be able to eat.

4. Try to compost food that will be wasted no matter how many precautions I take.

5. Try to work towards technology and solutions that will help us to a world where hunger is no longer a world problem. 

Any other thoughts? Anything else that needs to be pledged?


Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Acne Apps Scandal - how a select few make everyone suffer...

Lately, there has been so much yelling and screaming by concerned "non-profits" and their "friends" about how taxes kill innovation, patents kill innovation, regulations kill innovation and pretty much anything that the party they support does not endorse kills innovation (I don't care about your politics, but stop being so transparent, please!).
And yet, for all this noise they throw out, the signals in their brains appear too weak. On one end, they hark about taxes, and on the other end they hang on to aging, inconsequential CEOs. On the other hand, what the hell do people think when, 
1. They let people design and sell apps that "cure" Acne by pointing a cell phone at something? Why did the FTC have to intervene? What is fundamentally wrong with Apple and Google that they did not actively seek out this nonsense and stop it.
2. There were 15,000 downloads of the apps. I am hoping about 14,990 of these downloads were done for a joke? Yeah, I live in fantasy land. Well you know, if we weren't this silly, why would a Government need to regulate such fundamental things?
Irresponsibility - the origin of regulation
Pharmaceutical, device and now app regulations arise because companies act irresponsibly. Sometimes so gravely and with such transparency and ulterior motives that it causes one to pause. The two acne apps are excellent examples of such behavior.
The industry cannot condone such action on one hand, and continue to seek fewer regulations on the other hand. It is just not going to happen. There are more than the 15,000 geniuses that downloaded the apps, and some of us think! - And when we do, we think for all of us, just not some of us!
The few that ruin it for the many
If, among the whiners and complainers, there are ones that really want less regulation, they need to take on the few that ruin it for all of us. Don't simply stand by everyone that crosses your path. Take a stance, fight back and then maybe, we can get some of those regulations down. 
If you simply want to complain, good luck..
Reference:

Monday, August 29, 2011

Off-Topic: Please vote for us!

I know this is off-topic, and I haven't blogged in a while. As has become the norm, I have become busy with some stuff, but I have some exciting news to share with you. One of the projects I have been is a telemedicine project for EnableRx.

We are looking for some votes and I thought I would reach out to the readers of this blog seeking some of those votes. Any feedback you have is also welcome. Every vote counts and the organizers are strict about the accuracy of the registrations.

Please take a look at us here: http://contest.techbriefs.com/medical-2011/2030

Sunday, June 26, 2011

There's trouble ahead for Pharma...

Pharma, Drug Industry, or as many of us fondly refer to it as "Big Pharma" is headed for trouble. There are four main sources of trouble for the industry and while this is no uncommon knowledge, it is worth repeating here:

1. Size:

No one wants to admit it, but pharmaceutical companies have bloated to sizes that are unfathomable within the realms of meaning or logic. Once companies get this big, all they care about are Excel files in which employees are mere cells if not columns. Every effort to fight costs is seen as an exercise in employee reduction.

Recently, I came across a rather depressing rebuttal to Scientific American's "1,000 Scientists in 1,000 Days", by Josh Bloom, a former employee of Wyeth, with a PhD in Chemistry and more than a few years of experience to boot, that complained about the jobs moving to cheaper locations.

While he paints a sobering picture and may create the impression that building careers in science and engineering may not help kids in the future, the point that the layoffs in big pharmaceutical companies have gotten out of control.

Consequences of size

The large scale of the organizations in question exponentially worsen the problems they face. Instead of taking responsibility, executives appear to stake out defensive walls and target large swathes of employees and lay them off. It is not surprising then that scientists like Josh Bloom appear disenchanted.

2. The buck-passing routine

Blaming the FDA or the federal government or pretty much any other entity but themselves has become a favorite with executives in some of these companies. With Senators and Congressmen acting as mouthpieces to their donors, the executives and the organizations, this has only become too easy. The Supreme Court has not helped with its irresponsibility in assuming that a laissez-fair state of donations is somehow constitutionally acceptable.

Company executives should exercise and assume strategic vision and indulge in creative solutions, not pass the buck and appear spineless.

3. Loss of exclusivity - the patent "cliff"

With many patents about to expire in the near future, about 110 drugs will lose their exclusivity between 2012-2014. This represents a significant loss of income for various pharmaceutical organizations. Before you herald your sympathy though, you should realize that the fact that the companies will be affected by the patent "cliff" was in open view, and should not come as a surprise to anyone.

Relying way too much on one and only one strategy - exclusivity to "blockbuster" drugs has led to the issue at hand, again something that these high priced bell-hops executives should have hedged against with alternates.

Simply acquiring companies and slashing jobs has of course been the only and ineffective alternate.

4. Conservative R&D

"Throughout the centuries, there were men who took first steps, down new roads, armed with nothing but their own vision." -- Ayn Rand

Cheesy? Yeah, maybe, but here is the deal. Drugs were released, not by MBAs equipped with pretty PowerPoint slides, but by people who struggled through starting companies and double mortgaged their homes. When these companies became acquired by larger organizations, R&D turned to becoming conservatives.

In trying to come up with new drugs, organizations have adopted the same age-old strategies, and used smoke-screens instead of real and deliberate attempts at innovation. This of course, has meant that only 21 molecules were introduced last year, as opposed to 26 the year before.

The Dendreon success story

When Provenge finally won approval, it should have served as an eye opener for many pharma executives that status quo is not a good R&D strategy. There are so many avenues available in genetic repair, personalized medicine and others that remain unfunded or under-funded because everyone wants "someone else" to do it, so that they can swoop in later on, acquire them and lay people off..

Companies that buck the trend and take risks to forge new paths will succeed while others will be left behind to acquire their way to oblivion.

5. Falling, falling, falling...

So, between 2009 and 2010, R&D investments fell over 3%, down from $70bn to $68bn. While that might seem small, according to Reuters, it is bound to fall more.

There are fewer IPOs slated for biotech organizations this year.

Investment in biotech start-ups is also down.

Conclusion

It is time that pharmaceutical companies got serious and set the right priorities. Companies need to trim fat, starting at the top. Stop passing the buck and take responsibility to make sure investors get positive returns on their investments. Make sure there is enough R&D funding and finally, remember they are in the business to improve people's health...

References:

1. Some numbers:

http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/06/26/pharmaceuticals-rd-idUSL6E7HO1BL20110626?feedType=RSS&feedName=rbssHealthcareNews&utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+reuters%2FUShealthcareNews+%28News+%2F+US+%2F+Healthcare+News%29&utm_content=Twitter

2. On vanishing science jobs:

http://www.nypost.com/p/news/opinion/opedcolumnists/america_vanishing_science_jobs_V3TzWwPRZsmTh1sGmtVr8L?fb_comment_id=fbc_10150227908749349_17158421_10150228481934349#f2951ecb507bb

3. Scientific American's 1000 scientists in 1000 days:

http://www.scientificamerican.com/page.cfm?section=calling-all-scientists

4. Genetic Editing:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2011/jun/26/doctors-breakthrough-repairing-genetic-defects

5. On passing the buck:

http://chaaraka.blogspot.com/2011/06/on-scott-browns-unfactual-rant.html

http://www.boston.com/news/nation/washington/articles/2011/06/27/biotech_industry_lobbies_against_medicare_cost_panel/