Friday, October 28, 2005

Stranger than Fiction?

"That's a nasty hack - you better take some medicine for it!"
The Puffington Host already had this, and Sploid picked it up from there, but I don't know if all of my reader(s) would see it there. In short, a guy was hired by PhRMA to write a thriller about adulterated drugs from Canada, poisoned by nasty swarthy types. The plug was pulled, and PhRMA's management claims ignorance about this project, set up by a "lower-level employee who acted without authority." The juicy part at the end of this? The book is coming out anyway, supposedly with a drug company behind the poisoning conspiracy! Bitchin! Pre-order today!

The plot thickens....
A reader asked me about possible plot holes in "The Constant Gardener," and I'll try to reply. How can a company hope to market a drug that quickly maims or kills a number of patients? The answer depends on what the drug is for - how deadly is the disease you're trying to cure? Specifically, in the movie the drug is being used for tuberculosis, and there are hints that the drug just needs "fine-tuning" before it can be submitted to regulatory authorities for approval. This is only conceivable if the "fine-tuning" has to do with finding the optimum dose range for the drug. You can't just muck about with the molecule, adding or removing an atom here or there to make it safer. Not yet, anyway. The closest I've seen to that sort of chemistry is to take an isomer of a drug, and to market it as a different compound, after testing. See this article for a good description, and some examples. An example of a film with an outlandish plot revolving around a bad drug, see "The Fugitive" where a drug ("Provasic" - great name!) to clear out blocked arteries was destroying patient livers. This drug would have been pulled within a few months after launch - it made no sense to hide such deadly effects during the trials, since the costs of pulling the drug off the market, with all the associated lawsuits and bad publicity, would be far more than just cutting your losses during clinical trials, and canceling the program. The truly paranoid just don't get that - we can't hide all the dead bodies, you know.