Monday, January 13, 2014

This week's C&EN

Lots of interesting stuff in this week's C&EN:
  • The World Chemical Outlook is worthwhile. I liked this quote from Cambrex's CEO in Rick Mullin's  that smaller drug startups like to be "touchy-feely" when dealing with fine chemicals manufacturers -- can't say I blame them, really. 
    • I was rather bemused at this comment in Lisa Jarvis' article on the pharma outlook from an Ernst and Young analyst: "Flochel expects the headcount reductions to continue in 2014 but says they will be weighted toward sales, manufacturing, and supply-chain positions, rather than the deep cuts to R&D seen in recent years. “There’s a limit to how much you can cut because then you cut in the muscle rather than the fat,” he says." Oh, we're only getting to the muscle now?!? I'm pretty sure we hit the bone in 2009, maybe 2011. 
  • The U.S. had a lower proportion of the world's biomedical R&D spending in 2012, attributable mainly to lower industrial spending. (article by Rick Mullin)
  • Chuck Schumer wants to phase out an older model of tank car, potentially responsible for recent incidents where after the tank cars full of Bakken crude derail, they explode. Oh, dear. (article by Glenn Hess.)
  • Can anyone make heads or tails of this letter to the editor about Canadian science? It's confusing as all get-out.


  1. With respect to the letter to the editor about Canadian Science: As a Canadian scientist, I'm not sure what the author is getting at in the latter part of their letter. I think they are referring to the difficulty obtaining and testing controlled substances like narcotics? I know there are many hoops and regulations to go through for this, but accredited analytical labs can obtain controlled substances with the right paperwork.

    For their opening comments, it is true there have been many cuts to science funding to both academic and government labs, and many believe our current government is censoring government scientists, towards a pro-oil, pro-big business agenda.

  2. anon electrochemistJanuary 13, 2014 at 7:02 PM

    I worked in an accredited lab, and we obtained a full license from Health Canada in order to handle controlled substances as per standard practice. Federal police officers came in and arbitrarily decided that while Health Canada may distribute licenses and approve studies, the police are under no obligation to recognize such licenses as legitimate, and threatened criminal proceedings and confiscating the lab should it happen again. There was no recourse available after they decided our research was not in the public interest, even after federal funding had been procured.

  3. He's talking from the perspective of a defence lawyer. He finds it unfair that the details of the lab analyses that identify molecules are not disclosed, and therefore cannot be challenged, in cases where the defendant's guilt depends on whether the molecules are identified as controlled substances or not.