Tuesday, May 13, 2014

A sign that Joe Nocera doesn't know what he doesn't know

That he's willing to take this statement at face value in his column today on Pfizer and AstraZeneca (h/t VI):
For instance, scientists can use biomarkers to target disease population subsets. “Even in oncology, we are getting at such a better understanding, it is almost like a lock in a key,” said Mark Schoenebaum, the head of health care research for International Strategy and Investment. 
Almost!

(As for his question of whether Big Pharma cutbacks have slowed "innovation" (whatever-the-holy-effing-eff-that-means), my answer is probably "Yes, unquestionably." Every time you fire a team of scientists, you lower the probably of discovering something new from 0.005% (or whatever) to zero.)

(Hey, biotechtoreador, I'm catching on.

5 comments:

  1. Joe Nocera has this bit at the end of his article:
    "A note to readers: My column of April 29, entitled “Buffett Bites Back,” was based on a faulty premise."
    He needs to add the same line for the 12 may article too, as you noted above.

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  2. I agree with your sentiment that Schoenebaum's statement is an oversimplification of reality and Nocera using it would suggest his limited appreciation of science research however hasn't this theme been greatly propagated by the scientists/community for years and years as part of the personalized medicine mantra/movement, mostly when seeking more funding? Biomarkers are a worthwhile venture and could have great promise and perhaps even a few actual examples of application already. Like the majority of areas in science it will probably be a long time before can look back and recognize the amount of truth, or lack thereof, in such statements. I see everyone suffers from extreme optimism when attempting to convey info to people who lack understanding or more so those who hold the purse strings.

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    1. It's the "almost like a lock and key" statement that's really off-putting. Biomarkers -- who knows?

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    2. Not even true for most enzymes....

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  3. Is it a editorial error in the article or did he really say "its almost like a lock in a key"? Now that picture seems complex enough to possibly describe science as often having success opening one lock simply leads to use of a key where now have to find a whole new lock that it fits and then repeat cycles until at some point may find something with meaningful value

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