Thursday, February 2, 2017

BioPharma Reacts to Trump

Washington, DC

On Tuesday, President Donald J. Trump met with BioPharma industry lobbyists and leaders to discuss his plans for the industry, as well as "streamlining" and deregulating the FDA.  Reporters from C&EN Onion have reached out to industry leaders to get their impressions on the meeting:

John Maraganore, CEO, Alnylam Pharmaceuticals 

Dr. Maraganore stated he was happy he and the president could "see eye to eye" on regulatory issues.  He expressed hope that Alnylam would be able to continue development of its halted blockbuster amyloidosis candidate revusiran.  He commented "I'm glad the president is willing to work with industry on burdensome regulatory requirements.  Why should the pedantry of NDA paperwork, or sky-high subject mortality over placebo in phase III completely derail what is otherwise a breakthrough innovation?"

Ian Read, CEO, Pfizer Inc.

Trump called on industry to continue innovation while offering products at lower prices, "What I want is... we need to get lower prices."  In a response, Read enthusiastically announced a price cutting initiative coincident with a rebranding of several major Pfizer drugs.  Namely, the company will spin out a new, lower cost formulation of its hugely successful statin drug, Lipitor™.  The new product, Lipitor Lite™, will sell for half the current label price.  Read commented, "By cutting some of our drugs with baking soda, Pfizer will be able to offer buyers similar drugs at significantly lower prices."

Mark Timney, CEO, Purdue Pharma

Timney stated that the president's desire for lower cost pain management treatments, coupled with relaxed regulations would allow Purdue's formulations business unit to pursue alternative therapeutic combinations.  According to Timney, "one such alternative we are investigating is repackaged black tar heroin.  Although it is uncertain how Mr. Trump's desire for US-based  manufacturing will impact this initiative, as the majority of heroin is currently produced in Afghanistan."  

As of press time, Trump had introduced a modified plan to fit all FDA regulations on one side of a 3x5 note card.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Scientific Community Debates Standard Definition of "Impact Factor"

Paris, France

The General Conference on Weights and Measures reconvened this week in an emergency session aimed at reaching a consensus over the definition of impact factor (IF).  Impact factor has long been the unit of measure generally regarded as appropriate for quantifying the scientific importance of a particular publication.

Empirical determination of impact factor has long been a laborious task and dates back to 1975 when print journals were pyrolyzed and the effluent hot gas run through a flame ionization detector.  Advances in furnace design, coupled with digital detectors in the mid-1990's allowed impact factor to be quantified to much higher degrees of precision.  The rise of computational chemistry in the early 2000's allowed unrestricted Hartree-Fock calculations to be applied to predictive models of impact factor determination.

Despite the numerous advances in determining IF, state-of-the-art methods still only allow quantification to four decimal places of precision.  This shortfall results in the contribution of "nanoimpact" journals -- those emitting infinitesimally low IF -- being neglected entirely.

The current standard impact factor model used by scientists relies on the International Impact Factor Prototype (IIFP), a physical copy of the latest issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, stored in a climate controlled vault under armed guard -- defined as precisely 55.87(3) IF.  Other definitions of impact factor exist; however, most rely on relationships between non-SI derived quantities, such as the difficult to interpret H-index.  Moreover, the discrepancy between competing definitions introduces error larger in magnitude than the IF of some publications.

Still, many conference participants remain skeptical that the time is right to unify and standardize the definition of impact factor.  "There's some interesting work coming out of Oak Ridge National Lab which seems to imply that impact factor may, in fact, be quantized," stated Thomas Schwartz, PhD.  "That would be a game changer.  Ultimately, in my opinion there's simply not enough data to develop an authoritative unified model," added Schwartz.

Meanwhile, scientists at CERN remain hopeful that forthcoming high-energy experiments involving five of the six particle accelerators in operation will elucidate a standard definition of the IF.  "We will accelerate two high impact print journals to relativistic speeds -- 7.6% of the speed of light -- and collide them in our Compact Linear Collider facility.  The resulting fragments of subatomic particles will be quantified by our suite of over 15,000 independent detectors.  It is our hope to detect the theorized impactron, the elementary particle responsible for giving matter impact factor," explained Fabiola Gianotti, director general of CERN.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Martin Shkreli Arrested; Prosecutors Seek Indictment On Three Counts

New York, NY

Federal prosecutors announced today that they had arrested controversial venture capitalist Martin Shkreli on three separate securities fraud related charged.  Jonathan Weil, spokesperson for the SEC had this to say:

"Early this morning, Mr. Shkreli was arrested for federal agents on charges related to his activities as CEO of pharmaceutical company Retrophin."

According to Weil, prosecutors plan on indicting Shkreli on two separate charges of being a smug, unrepentant bag of dicks in the first degree, and conspiracy to holy shit how is any of what he's doing even remotely legal, god damn.

He also indicated that the prosecution is considering seeking a third indictment for oh my god, just look at that asshole's face, what a douche.

Sources present as his arraignment indicated that Mr. Shkreli paid his $1,000,000 bail with cartoonish moneybags stashed with hundred dollar bills.  When reached for comment, Shkreli did not speak with the press, but instead threw both middle fingers into the air and briefly smirked before stepping into the back of his chartered limousine.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Area PI Orchestrates Perfect Hostile Work Environment

Boston, MA

Associate Professor James Smith spoke to C&EN Onion Thursday morning from his office in the Harvard affiliated Boston Children's Hospital to report on his successful creation of the ideally hostile work environment.

Professor Smith, who employs six post-doctoral researchers and three graduate students, described the atmosphere of veiled fear and tense suspicion he had meticulously crafted within his lab.  "I find that the goals of science are better served when my researchers are deeply mistrustful of each other and in constant fear of having their funding cut.  Really makes everyone put in a certain je ne sais quoi."

"It's actually really simple to keep the J-1's [visa holders] in line.  Just the implication that I might not continue to fund them is enough to coax at least another 2-3 months of 70-hour weeks out of them."

"Every now and then I bring in a candidate to interview; you know, just so my post-docs sweat a little."

Smith went on to explain his method for ensuring the lab was bustling with activity during nights and weekends.  "Last group meeting, I photocopied the employment contract each of my group members signed and highlighted the line stating each employee must work 'no less than forty hours' per week."

"I also find it's critical to encourage competition between group members," Smith continued.  "If two of them are working on similar projects, I'll throw a couple tasks at them that overlap slightly.  Gets 'em worrying about author order."

"Now, if I could just figure out a way to eliminate those damned hour-long lunches they keep taking."

Thursday, November 5, 2015

ACS President-Elect Allison Campbell Announces Bold Reform Plans

Washington, DC

Just days after winning a close election over G. Bryan Balazs, Allison Campbell, president-elect of the American Chemical Society, took to the podium to announce sweeping reforms to the professional organization this morning.

"After collecting the results of numerous polls and focus groups of ACS members, I am very pleased to announce significant changes to the way the American Chemical Society will be run during my tenure," began Dr. Campbell.

"We have long deliberated the issues which matter most to our members: stable employment, wage stagnation, and industrial safety, among others.  After much consideration, we are taking concrete steps to address these issues.  First, each ACS member will receive a commemorative key chain in addition to the traditional coffee mug on each anniversary of their ACS membership."

"I am also pleased to report that, in addition to receiving a 15% discount from Hertz car rental, ACS members will henceforth receive a similar discount at all Denny's restaurants in the 48 contiguous United States," she added.

"Finally, we are rolling out a new feature exclusive to members; SciFinder-Facebook integration.  All the powerful features you are familiar with can now be shared with your friends and family across your favorite social network."

In her closing remarks, president-elect Campbell disclosed that the long-standing 25 complimentary ACS journal downloads annually allocated to each member would be replaced by a two month trial of LinkedIn Premium.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

3 Reported Dead After Paperwork Exposure Event Results In Drowning

St. Louis, MO

Two technicians and a process chemist were reportedly killed early Tuesday evening at the SynTech custom chemical plant in St. Louis, MO.  The incident occurred when an internal safety review board generated enough hot gas to rupture, showering the three in paperwork.

The accumulation of the noxious paperwork, a myriad of inane and redundant forms, check-box SOP's, and boilerplate hazard warnings, initially began slowly following the adjournment of a process safety review meeting.  However, by mid-afternoon enough paperwork had been evolved from the discussion to increase the stress on the system's self-importance relief valve to critical levels.  Investigations are ongoing, but it is suspected that the valve's pressure was not properly monitored due to management's failure to check the autonomy levels of the review panel.

A spokesperson from SynTech expressed sympathy with the families of those affected.  "We wish to express our deepest condolences to the families and loved ones of the three workers lost today.  SynTech is working closely with federal investigators to determine the precise cause of yesterday's paperwork exposure, and to ensure that such a tragedy will never occur again."

The spokesperson went on to describe an emergency safety review board incident review panel, which had been formed immediately following the rupturing of the safety review board.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Martin Shkreli Announces Plans To Purchase, Hollow-Out Dormant Volcano

New York, NY

Following news that Imprimis Pharmaceuticals had entered the market for Daraprim -- the subject of Turing Pharmaceutical's recent controversial price increase -- Turing CEO Martin Shkreli announced his firm's plan to relocate their headquarters to a hollowed-out volcano somewhere in the south pacific.

"Due to recent corporate restructuring, we have decided that a private island fortress in the form of a long-dormant, but hopefully still smoldering volcano will ideally suit Turing Pharmaceuticals as a new base of operations," stated Shkreli.  "As you are all well aware, Turing is committed to spending at least 50% of its total accrued profits on efforts toward world domination."

Mr. Shkreli then proceeded to extol the benefits of such an aquatic lair.  "The fortress will, of course, be located in international waters and be accessible only by chartered helicopter.  Construction is expected to take approximately eighteen months to complete, which places Turing in an ideal situation to begin construction on a ICBM-equipped moon base by no later than Q2 of 2017."

As of press time, Turing's board of directors was reportedly investigating the costs associated with procuring a small army of child soldiers from the failed state of Somalia, as well as several hovercrafts to patrol the waters around their proposed headquarters.