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delta/comair travel hellI recently had the pleasure of experiencing Delta and Comair‘s friendly customer support as I attempted to make the 90 minute trip from Minneapolis to Toronto on DL 6350.

A series of mechanical failures on Delta/Comair‘s aircraft resulted in me arriving at my destination seventeen hours late. After the first flight was canceled due to mechanical problems, I had the pleasure of waiting in line for two hours to be booked into the local Radisson (an excellent hotel) by the friendly Delta team members. The generous $6 vouchers for dinner and breakfast supplied me with an excellent opportunity to experiment with caloric restriction. The next morning, as I awaited takeoff on my rebooked flight, I had ample opportunity to sleep unperturbed by turbulence as we sat on the ground waiting for the pilot ultimately scrub the flight due to the second mechanical malfunction of my trip. I had ample opportunity to contemplate the odds of two mechanical problems in a row and the implications for the safety of Delta/Comair‘s aircraft as the polite crew kept assuring us that a replacement aircraft would be available, in sequential twenty-minute increments. They were also very prompt to offer us travel vouchers after some distressed passengers loudly voiced their frustration over the extensive delay and uncertain nature of our egress. When we finally boarded a functional aircraft and were airborne, the Comair stewardess was kind enough to offer free premium beverages (valued at $5-$7), which surprisingly satiated the more vocal complainers.

It took me nearly twenty hours to complete a ninety minute flight. While I would have preferred it if Delta/Comair had rebooked me on another flight, or preferably, a more reliable airline, I did appreciate the opportunity to experience their friendly yet ineffective customer support and confidence-shaking maintenance regime. I look forward to selling my travel voucher on Ebay and finding a more reliable airline.


UPDATE

I received the following response when I submitted a formal complaint to Delta:

Thank you for contacting us.  On behalf of everyone at Delta Air Lines,  I appreciate the opportunity to be of assistance with your request.  I am truly sorry for that we are unable to go through your concern. We  recently experienced some technical problems with our online form and it appears we may not have received a portion of the information you  provided. In order to fully review your concerns, we ask that you resend your message.

So I guess that brings the number of technical problems to three!

Thank you for contacting us.  On behalf of everyone at Delta Air Lines,
I appreciate the opportunity to be of assistance with your request.
I am truly sorry for that we are unable to go through your concern. We
recently experienced some technical problems with our online form and it
appears we may not have received a portion of the information you
provided. In order to fully review your concerns, we ask that you resend
your message.

Many biotechnology entrepreneurs favorably look back at times when financing and regulatory approval were easier to obtain. While future periods of investor exuberance may return, it is better to see these as market aberrations.

In periods of investor exuberance companies have been pushed to focus on low-probability, high-return, objectives such as approval and successful marketing of novel drugs for large markets. When this strategy works it is very profitable, but the more likely outcome is failure and destruction of wealth. A favorable strategy is to build a slower, stronger, company than can withstand developmental setbacks.

In a recent issue of the Journal of Commercial Biotechnology I expanded on this concept, providing examples from computer software and bioinformatics where initial products were outside of the company’s target market. This strategy can differentiate a company from competitors, provide evidence of ability to successfully execute on plans, and even provide revenues. For more, see the freely-available editorial on the JCB’s website.

Do you agree? Disagree? Sound-off in the comments below.

The public portion of the International Symposium Development of an R&D Cluster in Okinawa has been posted. The symposium brought experts from around the world, with a particular emphasis on regions such as San Diego, Singapore, and Israel. Complete coverage, including video links in English and Japanese are on the Okinawa Institute for Science and Technology website.

I will be writing up my comments in a future issue of the Journal of Commercial Biotechnology, and linking to them from this blog.

This is a guest post from BiotechBlog reader Jack Lundee

Technology Continues to Fight Aids

In 2008, Sub-Saharan Africa was populated with over 22 million HIV+ inhabitants, and currently there are over 5 million Southern Africans infected with the virus. Worldwide, there are upwards of 40 million people infected with HIV, a very frightening number. But with the coming of the 22nd annual World AIDS Day, it’s important to take note the progress that has been made in the fight against HIV/AIDS. At the same time, it’s very vital we familiarize ourselves with a couple great HIV research and technology investors.

Granted, there have already been major advances concerning affordable microbicides and vaccines as preventative measures against the virus. Similarly, the introduction of low-cost antiretroviral drugs has allowed people already infected to lead longer, healthier and happy lives.

This can most certainly be attributed to tremendous associations like the CGI (Clinton Global Initiative). The Clinton Global Initiative has put a tremendous amount of money into AIDS research. Known for his work in raising money for Hurricane/Tsnuami victims, former President Clinton and his close personal aide Doug Band also have great interest in tackling one of the deadliest STDs in the world, HIV/AIDS. Back in 2006, Clinton helped open people’s eyes to the severity of the disease in foreign states by traveling deep into Burma with the crew of 60 Minutes.

Before this however, he introduced CHAI (Clinton Health Access Initiative), outlined specifically as “a global health organization committed to strengthening integrated health systems in the developing world and expanding access to care and treatment for HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis.” Their main objective was to travel to these third world countries like Burma, and distribute various treatments, which weren’t currently available to sufferers. Since it’s beginning, the organization has helped more than 2 million people gain access to medicines needed for treatment. But the efforts of Former President Clinton and his close personal aide did not end there. The CGI continues to receive funding for HIV related projects in third world countries like Southern Africa.

In their latest endeavor, they’ve joined forces with HP (Hewlett Packard) to deliver technologies that will capture, manage and return early diagnosis for infants. This translates to indentifying the virus in an infant within one to two days, which is a huge improvement from previous paper based systems. How is this important? Newly borne are especially susceptible to the disease as their carriers can very easily transmit. Similarly, it’s very crucial that they begin treatment as soon as possible to ensure survival; without, they are typically unable to survive past age two. In a statement to the press, Clinton stated, “I’m pleased HP’s technology and expertise will enable the partnership with CHAI to save the lives of more than 100,000 infants in Kenya each year, and in the process, demonstrate how the private sector can and should operate in the developing world.”

Within their first year, HP is expected to return results concerning HIV testing for nearly 70,000 infants in Kenya. The technologies introduced will also allow for real-time medical data, which will be viewable to health professionals across Kenya.

Known for it’s incredibly high number of HIV+ citizens, Africa remains one of the greatest challenges for organizations like CHAI/CGI today. Recent advancements in technology combined with the help of Doug Band and Former President Clinton have helped lessen casualty rates and permitted people to live more productive lives. And although a cure remains unfound, HP and the CGI have provided great technological steps in the right direction towards eliminating the virus for good.

Jack Lundee is a writer for Everythingleft.wordpress.com and Shadesofgreen.info. With a graduates from the Newhouse School of Communications, he’s an avid supporter of all things left and progressive.

Drug Patent Expirations in December 2010

*Drugs may be covered by multiple patents

TradenameApplicantGeneric NamePatent Number Patent Expiration
CHILDREN’S MOTRINMcneil Consibuprofen5,215,755*PEDDec 1, 2010
JUNIOR STRENGTH MOTRINMcneil Consibuprofen5,215,755*PEDDec 1, 2010
MOTRINMcneil Pedibuprofen5,215,755*PEDDec 1, 2010
ZYFLO CRCornerstone Therapzileuton4,873,259Dec 9, 2010
ZYFLOCornerstone Therapzileuton4,873,259Dec 10, 2010
ANDRODERMWatson Labstestosterone5,164,190Dec 11, 2010
ANDRODERMWatson Labstestosterone5,152,997Dec 11, 2010
OXYTROLWatson Labs (utah)oxybutynin5,164,190Dec 11, 2010
ALORAWatson Labsestradiol5,164,190Dec 11, 2010
ZANTAC 150Boehringer Ingelheimranitidine hydrochloride5,098,715Dec 20, 2010
QUIXINSantenlevofloxacin5,053,407Dec 20, 2010
IQUIXSantenlevofloxacin5,053,407Dec 20, 2010

This information is also available in an email newsletter: Subscribe to the DrugPatentWatch Patent Expiration Bulletin. Courtesy of DrugPatentWatch.com

“Patent Expirations Will Stabilize the Pharmaceutical Industry.”

I must believe it, because I’m quoted in the St. Louis Observer as having said it!

The reporter did a good job of capturing what I meant, quoting me as saying “the industry will be more diverse, with a more stable, though smaller, revenue base spread among many more products.”

To expand, I think that the loss of patents on some of the larger brands will mean that the pharmaceutical industry will rely on a larger number of smaller-market products for the lion’s share of its revenues. The loss of marketing exclusivity on drugs like Lipitor, Nexium, and Plavix will mean that drug companies will need to derive their revenues from a greater number of products. While this might be bad for Pfizer, Astrazeneca, and Sanofi Aventis, the overall result should be a healthier, less volatile, pharmaceutical industry.

The November 2010 issue of the Journal of Commercial Biotechnology is now available. The links below will take you to the abstract for each paper:

Volume 16, Issue 4

Editorial

For success in biotechnology, look beyond biotechnologyPDF
Yali Friedman

Commentary

Federal bureaucrats slip on oil spillPDF
Henry I Miller

Articles

R&D spending and sources of funding of private US biopharmaceutical firms seeking to go publicPDF
David R Williams, Richard W Pouder
Algae and Biodiesel: Patenting energized as green goes commercialPDF
Matthew R Preiss, Stanley P Kowalski
Biotechnology industry-physician interaction and OIG guidelines: Evidence from the stock marketPDF
Thani Jambulingam, WaQar Ghani, Rajneesh Sharma
Exploratory assessment of the current EU regulatory framework for development of advanced therapiesPDF
Pawanbir Singh, Laure Brévignon-Dodin, Satya P Dash
Patenting of microorganisms: Systems and concernsPDF
Ramkumar Balachandra Nair, Pratap Chandran Ramachandranna

Legal and Regulatory Updates

Legal and Regulatory UpdatePDF
Gerry Kamstra
The aftermath of BilskiPDF
Thomas C Meyers, Adam M Schoen
Commentary regarding decision in Bilski from a biotech perspectivePDF
Thomas J Kowalski, Heidi E Lunasin, Deborah L Lu, Brian M McGuire, Frank J DeRosa

Book Reviews

Book Review: Biodesign: The process of innovating medical technologiesPDF
Randall Tagg, Catalina Bravo

Drug Patent Expirations in November 2010

*Drugs may be covered by multiple patents

TradenameApplicantGeneric NamePatent Number Patent Expiration
SAMSCAOtsuka America Pharmtolvaptan5,258,510Nov 2, 2010
TRUVADAGileademtricitabine; tenofovir disoproxil fumarate5,210,085*PEDNov 11, 2010
COZAARMercklosartan potassium5,210,079*PEDNov 11, 2010
EMTRIVAGileademtricitabine5,210,085*PEDNov 11, 2010
ATRIPLAGileadefavirenz; emtricitabine; tenofovir disoproxil fumarate5,210,085*PEDNov 11, 2010
TAXOTERESanofi Aventis Usdocetaxel4,814,470*PEDNov 14, 2010
GEMZARLillygemcitabine hydrochloride4,808,614*PEDNov 15, 2010
RAPAMUNEWyeth Pharms Incsirolimus5,212,155*PEDNov 18, 2010
FORTOVASEHoffmann La Rochesaquinavir5,196,438Nov 19, 2010
INVIRASEHoffmann La Rochesaquinavir mesylate5,196,438Nov 19, 2010
INVIRASERochesaquinavir mesylate5,196,438Nov 19, 2010
VITRAVENE PRESERVATIVE FREENovartisfomivirsen sodium5,264,423Nov 23, 2010
PEPCID ACMerck Sharp Dohmefamotidine5,075,114*PEDNov 23, 2010
PEPCID COMPLETEMerck Sharp Dohmecalcium carbonate; famotidine; magnesium hydroxide5,075,114*PEDNov 23, 2010
ADALAT CCBayer Hlthcarenifedipine5,264,446Nov 23, 2010
PROCARDIA XLPfizernifedipine5,264,446Nov 23, 2010
ARICEPT ODTEisai Incdonepezil hydrochloride4,895,841Nov 25, 2010
ARICEPTEisai Incdonepezil hydrochloride4,895,841Nov 25, 2010
HYCAMTINSmithkline Beechamtopotecan hydrochloride5,004,758*PEDNov 28, 2010
BUTRANSPurdue Pharma Lpbuprenorphine5,240,711Nov 28, 2010

This information is also available in an email newsletter: Subscribe to the DrugPatentWatch Patent Expiration Bulletin. Courtesy of DrugPatentWatch.com

I’ve just had a paper published in Nature Reviews Drug Discovery, using data from DrugPatentWatch to profile the locations of drugPharmaceutical Globalization: Where are drugs invented? invention for the past decade.

The location of drug development is important for two reasons. Firstly, it is important to track the global spread of innovation. Much late stage drug development (e.g. clinical trials) and manufacturing have moved to lower wage-cost countries, but trends in the location of invention has not been clearly described. Knowing where drug invention is occurring can help streamline drug development by identifying ideal locations for research facilities. Secondly it is important to know where invention is occurring, because that may affect which drugs are developed. Early-stage research funding and, by extension, the research itself, is likely to be focused on conditions affecting the countries in which these activities are occurring. For example, research in the United States might focus on conditions such as heart disease and stroke, whereas research in Japan might emphasize stomach cancer.

By examining the patents covering drugs developed over the last decade, I was able to ascertain the locations of the inventors. Focusing on inventors is important because it gives a clear indication of where the control of the invention was located. Patents are required to list the names and locations of the individual(s) who maintained intellectual domination of the invention. Failure to list all inventors, or listing too many inventors, can yield an invalid patent. Whereas one might consider assessing globalization of invention by focusing on the location of the company funding the research, or the company listed on the patent, these strategies are flawed. The company funding the research may not be the same company which conducted the research (e.g. Japanese companies funded many of the early US biotechnology companies, but the inventions occurred in the US by US researchers, so focusing on the funder might produce the incorrect conclusion that the innovation was Japan-based), and many companies have facilities in multiple countries, making it impossible to determine in which of the countries an invention might have occurred. Looking at the company listed on a patent is also flawed. The company listed on a patent might not have been the company that housed the researchers or, even worse, it may be a tax shelter based in a country where no invention occurred. So, by focusing on the locations of the listed inventors it is possible to determine where the invention occurred. An additional benefit of this strategy is that it enables inclusion of patenters from numerous countries. For example for a patent listing one US-based and two Canadian inventors, the US would be given 1/3 credit for an invention, and Canada 2/3 credit.

So, what did I find? In short, the US and the legacy pharmaceutical countries in Europe (United Kingdom, Germany, Sweden, France and Switzerland) have been responsible for the bulk of new drugs invented over the past decade, and there is no indication that this dominance is waning. Emerging economies such as India and China were largely absent. For more details, please see the paper at Nature Reviews Drug Discovery: Location of pharmaceutical innovation: 2000–2009.

You can also get more detailed information on the complete set of drug inventors and where they live in my Global Drug Patent Inventor Report and Individual Country Drug Patent Inventor Reports.

What do you think of the findings? Are you surprised? Do you disagree? Sound off in the comments.