Promising discovery in chemistry could have wide-ranging effects for drugmakers
Great news last week about a new molecule-building method that will allow chemists to develop elements and compounds from the starting point of carboxylic acids, which are “relatively cheap and non-toxic.” The process comes with many implications for the pharmaceutical industry. Everything from lower manufacturing costs to reduced (perhaps even eliminated) impact on ecosystems seems much more likely now.
After a tumultuous 2015 in the news, Big Pharma ought to be quick to embrace this positive discovery. An obstacle to that could come from one of the pharmaceutical industry’s defining characteristics: arrogant isolationism. They don’t like to be told what’s good for them. Certainly, they don’t like being told what they can or cannot do (see: FDA).
This obstinance is much like the mafia’s, where codes of “honor,” pride, and silence (omertá) prohibit outsiders from significantly influencing operations. The crime families do the significant influencing, not the other way around!
This type of closed organization is hardly ever beneficial to anyone other than those who stand to make money in it or from it. These isolationist groups, whether it’s a New York crime family or Pfizer, Inc., in essence grow money in the dark. Light diminishes their returns, the way they see it. You’ll hear no one from Big Pharma honestly praising the provisions in the Affordable Care Act which mandate some measure of transparency from the pharmaceutical companies.
But the fact remains that this innovation gives pharmaceutical manufacturers a rare opportunity to “reinvent” drugs that are effective, but also environmentally friendly.
Recent studies have been turning up pharmaceutical residues in treated wastewater used for crop irrigation, in the crops themselves, and have even traced the drugs back into humans. In essence, the more durable pharmaceuticals are polluting a complete, repeating chain of consumption, waste, introduction into food via water, consumption of the food, back into waste, and so on.
A chemists conference in Berlin earlier this year decided its top priority would be research and development of “green” pharmaceuticals. Now, scientists at The Scripps Research Institute have discovered a likely path for producing the environmentally friendly drugs. Big Pharma is having all the hard work done for them! If they are still unwilling to explore the possibilities that come with the new research, they ought to be compelled by law to do so.
After all, we’re talking about progress that could help patients tremendously, while protecting non-patient populations from ingesting pharmaceuticals from food containing other people’s waste. And while the science behind all of this isn’t common knowledge among non-scientists, sometimes we do best when including common sense in the solution.
It’s common sense to take precautions so that innocent people don’t end up with chemicals from other people’s bodies in their bodies! It’s also common sense for Big Pharma to consider positive discoveries in science, even though they aren’t accustomed to accepting anything from “outside” sources.
My upcoming novel, DEADLY PRESCRIPTION, is about organized crime in a fictionalized Big Pharma industry. It arrives mid-2016.