Monthly Archives: May 2007

Welcome to the May 25th 2007 edition of Carnival of Biotechnology.

Finance and business development
The big news on the web is Google’s investment in 23andMe, described here by the California Biotech Law Blog.

International biotech
Business Week has an article on The Rush To Test Drugs In China. This is a story with a number of potential upsides. Drug companies are having trouble finding sufficient numbers of clinical trial participants in North America, ultimately delaying the approval of vital medicines. Many Chinese patients are in need of cutting edge medicine. By conducting clinical trials overseas (clinical trials intended for FDA approval must meet American standards of care and ethics, regardless of where they are performed), drug companies can speed approval while simultaneously helping patients overseas.

John Mack at Pharma Marketing has two interesting pieces. First, he offers some advice to GlaxoSmithKline on Avandia: Don’t do what Merck did! Next, he investigates Centocor’s “disease awareness” movie INNERSTATE.

Forbes presents an educational article on Chasing Down Biotech Zombie Stocks – biotech firms operating with minimal revenues and no real chance of sustainable growth.

That concludes this edition.
For more information, see the Carnival of Biotechnology Homepage, or submit a link for the next edition. Interested in hosting a future Carnival of Biotechnology? Let me know.

I’ve been tracking the global spread of biotechnology for quite a while now. I’m fascinated with why biotechnology has taken root so strongly in the United States while many other countries are struggling to develop critical mass. This is the topic of a paper I’ve recently co-submitted in response to a request from the American Institute for Contemporary German Studies, where they are comparing German and American histories in biotechnology. More details will follow once the publication posts.

In the meantime, I’ve been cited by the AP in an article on the global expansion of biotech R&D. Just as manufacturing and back-office jobs have been offshored, the same is happening for biotech R&D. It’s interesting to watch, and should have profound implications for the cost structure of the industry.

If, like me, you miss the late Acumen Journal, you’ll be glad to hear that a very similar journal has launched. The Journal of Life Sciences brands itself “Where science and society meet.”

A copy appeared in the mail a few weeks ago, and I’ve been meaning to post a blog about it. Now that the web site’s up, I highly recommend browsing around. One of the more interesting articles is Steve Burrill’s The Global Transformation. Just as manufacturing and back-office operations have gone global, so too have research and development in the life sciences. What does this mean for the diversity and relevance of products? Regulation and intellectual property protection? Job security?


I’ll be giving a talk on career development in biotechnology at UNC-Chapel Hill on Wednesday May 16th at 4pm in the Bioinformatics Building (ground floor auditorium), to be followed by a social/networking session at Top of the Hill (local brewery) at 5:30.

My talk will open with my meandering career path, (hopefully) provide some guidance for those at the start of their careers, and provide some perspective on the coming impacts of the globalization of biotechnology.

The talk is open to all. For more information, contact my host, Brant Hamel at the Carolina Student Biotechnology Network.

What does Greenpeace oppose more: Patents, or genetic modification?

This question has been answered in a recent patent case where the European Patent Office (EPO) rejected a Monsanto patent for a technique for genetic modification of plants.

The patent, which was due to expire in 2008, describes a method to use a ‘particle gun’ to fire DNA into plants at high velocity and was opposed by Greenpeace and Canadian environmental group ETC, in concert with a large number of agribusiness firms. Interestingly, Monsanto was also in opposition to the patent, until they acquired the patent holder, Agracetus.

I’m a bit confused by Greenpeace’s decision here. Given that they support neither patents nor genetic modification, why would they support either side in a conflict?

India’s biotechnology industry has the potential to become a major driver of the country’s economy, but is challenged by one vital omission: patent protection. While current patent laws support a strong Indian generic industry, they also impede foreign investment. Without foreign investment India loses trading opportunities, and without a capacity to produce branded drugs India loses the opportunity to capture the full profit potential of its biotechnology industry.

Courtesy of

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

Tradename Applicant Generic Name Patent Number Patent Expiration
DIPROLENE Schering betamethasone dipropionate 4,775,529 MAY 21,2007
HABITROL Novartis nicotine 5,834,011 MAY 01,2007
OMNISCAN Ge Healthcare gadodiamide 4,687,659 MAY 04,2007
PATANOL Alcon olopatadine hydrochloride 4,923,892 MAY 08,2007
RANEXA Cv Therap ranolazine 4,567,264 MAY 18,2007
UROXATRAL Sanofi Aventis Us alfuzosin hydrochloride 4,661,491 MAY 27,2007

Courtesy of