Finally, a nice pharma story

You can always tell when I'm on a screaming deadline--things get a little quiet on Capsules. Hopefully, tomorrow I'll have time to post some of the fascinating little items I've been storing up.

In the meantime, here's one reminder that pharma is on the patient's side because, when it comes down to it, we're all patients. A snip:

    Michael Crockett rushed through the door at the Sunnyvale laboratory of Scios Inc. toting an Igloo cooler. Packed inside, beneath a layer of ice, was a vial of human bone marrow.

    The marrow was needed to test a tantalizing hypothesis: that Scios' experimental rheumatoid arthritis pill, SCIO-469, might also treat cancer. As Crockett, manager of the company's drug projects, delivered the bone marrow to Scios researchers in February 2003, he knew there was more at stake than product development.

    His boss, Scios Chief Executive Richard B. Brewer, 54, donated the marrow. Brewer had multiple myeloma, an incurable blood cancer that might be helped by the company's pill.

    The theory at the company, which is now based in Fremont, was that the drug might prevent malignant cells from multiplying, maybe one day turning myeloma into a manageable illness, like diabetes. ..

    Those at Scios who had watched Brewer battle his illness believed they were on a mission.

    "When someone you know and respect gets a disease, you get angry," said Scios' top scientist, George F. Schreiner. "We hated myeloma. ... We wanted to tear it down, plow it under the ground and put enough salt in so it never comes back."

It's a great story, especially for me to read after wallowing in clinical research trial hanky-panky for Medical Meetings' July/August cover story for so long. Pharma is not the evil empire--even when some members sometimes behave badly.

Update: This is so depressing. From this morning's Boston Globe: Heart drug's usage causes concern among some doctors. A snip:

    Shortly after the Food and Drug Administration in 2001 approved the heart failure drug Natrecor for hospitalized patients, two sales representatives from the manufacturer visited Dr. David L. Brown to promote the use of it elsewhere.

    The Scios Inc. reps gave Brown tips on how to set up and publicize outpatient clinics and even provided marketing brochures. ''You can turn it into a profit center," Brown remembers them saying. After they left his office at the Weiler Hospital of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, Brown threw the material away because he had no interest in opening a clinic. But other doctors have seized the opportunity.


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