Yearly Archives: 2007

My recent presentation at the “Biotechnology for Turkey” conference has been posted online. My central thesis was that the challenges faced by Turkey (and most any other location) are shared by many states within the United States. I’ve heard too many people opine for the seemingly easy start-up environment in the United States. The reality is that outside of the major hubs, biotechnology can be very hard to develop. It can even be difficult within the major hubs. So, instead of looking longingly at the strong position of leading regions in the U.S., why not look at the aggressive strategies being used by developing regions?

Check out my talk here.

Guest content from John Avellanet, managing director of Cerulean Associates:

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) intends to increase regulatory enforcement, extending the recent trend of laboratory and clinical site inspections to unapproved drugs and reformulations. How can you avoid compliance trouble?

At the Food and Drug Law Institute’s 5th Annual Enforcement and Litigation conference, several FDA compliance directors spoke out on FDA enforcement priorities and provided recommendations to improve compliance.

Laboratory & Clinical Inspections
The first two targets for enforcement are laboratories and clinical sites. Of the violations found, data integrity and policy/protocol adherence are the top two by a large margin, with data integrity involved in 95% of findings. Mitch Lazris, an industry defense attorney, noted that IT departments continue to be the weak link in the compliance chain.

Two main factors lead to inspections: problems with the integrity of the information submitted to the FDA and complaints by former employees, contractors, vendors, clinical trial participants and even the sponsors themselves.

Unapproved Drugs
The FDA estimates that approximately 2% of all prescriptions are for unapproved drugs or formulations. Priority will be given to those drugs that pose safety risks, with pediatric formulations at the top of the list. Drugs that lack evidence of efficacy are also considered to be “unapproved” now that all “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS) interpretations were revoked in 1968 (21 CFR 310.100).

Panel members made multiple concrete suggestions for executives:

  1. Conduct benefit-risk analyses for every product-related decision (such as labeling, reformulation, etc.); ask yourself how you’ll defend the decision in front of jurors increasingly suspicious of the high profits of (big) “pharma.”
  2. Train individuals to understand what they are committing to, not just the procedure or protocol steps.
  3. Clarify to IT their accountabilities for electronic data integrity—there are no magic bullet technological solutions, so be wary of “another system” to solve the problem; push for a “quality” approach, not a technological one.
  4. Use caution with universities that perform both the role of sponsor and investigator for clinical trials. Segregation of duties is critical.
  5. Do not use reputation or brand to select sites, vendors or systems; inspectors look for information integrity and process adherence.
  6. Rapidly respond to 483s as this shows you understand the gravity of the findings and have a positive attitude about the need for compliance.
  7. Use design control to your advantage to minimize risks during clinical trials, labeling decisions and so forth.
  8. Address all findings from audits, 483s and so on; remember to document the steps taken and the results. Expect the FDA to pursue court action if you insist on only fixing one or two items.

Following the panel’s recommendations will give you a stronger compliance program, minimize your costs, improve your bottom line and help you avoid enforcement action.
More recommendations and compliance strategies are on the Cerulean website.

About the Author
John Avellanet is a leading authority on simplifying and streamlining regulatory compliance and quality system programs so clients can achieve faster time-to-market. He can be reached through his independent consultancy, Cerulean Associates LLC ( at: john[at]

Courtesy of

Drug Patent Expirations in December 2007
*Drugs may be
covered by multiple patents

Tradename Applicant Generic Name Patent Number Patent Expiration
DOVONEX Leo Pharm calcipotriene 4,866,048 DEC 29,2007
FASLODEX Astrazeneca fulvestrant 4,659,516 DEC 11,2007
KYTRIL Roche granisetron hydrochloride 4,886,808 DEC 20,2007
KYTRIL Roche granisetron hydrochloride 4,886,808 DEC 29,2007
MERIDIA Abbott sibutramine hydrochloride 4,746,680 DEC 11,2007
REQUIP Glaxosmithkline ropinirole hydrochloride 4,452,808 DEC 07,2007
TACLONEX Leo Pharm Prods betamethasone dipropionate; calcipotriene hydrate 4,866,048 DEC 29,2007
ZINECARD Pharmacia And Upjohn dexrazoxane hydrochloride 4,963,551 DEC 21,2007
ZYRTEC Pfizer cetirizine hydrochloride 4,525,358 DEC 25,2007
ZYRTEC-D 12 HOUR Pfizer cetirizine hydrochloride; pseudoephedrine hydrochloride 4,525,358 DEC 25,2007

Courtesy of

At a recent event was recently asked about investment outcomes for venture capitalists. I didn’t have any recent data, so I said that VCs generally expect that 1/3 of their investments will see great returns, 1/3 will see modest or no returns, and 1/3 will not be profitable.

VC Fred Wilson as Union Square Ventures recently analyzed his career in venture capital and posted his results. He’s got an enviable record of only 20% of deals failing to deliver, and more than 1/3 delivering a greater than 5x return.

Fred’s not into biotech, so I’d be hesitant about applying these numbers to biotechnology investing, and I’d be interested to see what the trends are in biotech VC.

Bio-Rad’s got an interesting website up: RethinkPCR.

The company’s name isn’t posted on the front page, but is readily available in the contest terms and conditions and privacy policy. It’s an interesting strategy to acquire consumer intelligence. Of course, consumers don’t always ask for what they want — they tend to ask for incremental improvements rather than revolutions, and they may not even accept the changes they ask for — but it will be interesting to see if any innovative new PCR products emerge.

Courtesy of

Drug Patent Expirations in November 2007
*Drugs may be covered by more than one patent

Tradename Applicant Generic Name Patent Number Patent Expiration
ANDRODERM Watson Labs testosterone 4,849,224 NOV 12,2007
ANDRODERM Watson Labs testosterone 4,983,395 NOV 12,2007
AVITA Mylan Bertek tretinoin 4,971,800 NOV 20,2007
COMTAN Orion entacapone 4,963,590 NOV 27,2007
ELOCON Schering mometasone furoate 4,775,529 NOV 21,2007
FLECTOR Inst Biochem diclofenac epolamine 4,948,805 NOV 09,2007
MERIDIA Abbott sibutramine hydrochloride 4,929,629 NOV 29,2007
MYLOTARG Wyeth Pharms Inc gemtuzumab ozogamicin 4,970,198 NOV 30,2007
PROVIGIL Cephalon modafinil 4,927,855 NOV 22,2007
STALEVO 100 Orion carbidopa; entacapone; levodopa 4,963,590 NOV 27,2007
STALEVO 150 Orion carbidopa; entacapone; levodopa 4,963,590 NOV 27,2007
STALEVO 50 Orion carbidopa; entacapone; levodopa 4,963,590 NOV 27,2007
TOPROL-XL Astrazeneca metoprolol succinate 4,927,640 NOV 22,2007
TYLENOL (CAPLET) Mcneil Cons acetaminophen 4,968,509 NOV 06,2007
URSO 250 Axcan Scandipharm ursodiol 4,859,660 NOV 19,2007
URSO FORTE Axcan Scandipharm ursodiol 4,859,660 NOV 19,2007

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Today marks the 25th anniversary of the FDA’s approval of the first drug produced by biotechnology, Genentech’s Humulin. I often use Humulin as a case study for biotechnology, because Genentech’s bacterial-fermentation approach to making insulin was revolutionary compared to the previous methods of harvesting insulin from pig pancreas.

Thanks for OpenMarket for reminding me of this important anniversary. Their post on the topic is here

I’ve been waiting to write up the Exubera story for the next edition of Building Biotechnology, and the story just keeps getting better.

Exubera is was Pfizer’s innovative answer to the diabetes drug market. The market is so saturated with competitive products, that the only way to capture significant market share is to innovate. Either produce a better drug — difficult, unless you can think of something better than resolving an insulin deficiency by administering insulin! — or improve on current delivery methods. Answering the second challenge, Pfizer developed an inhalable version of insulin. This drug promised to eliminate the need for injections or implantable dosage systems.

Early responses were positive (Washington Post and NPR), but in what is being painted as a marketing catastrophe