Tuesday, July 5, 2016

This week's C&EN

A few of the articles from this week's issue of C&EN:
  • Cover: Deuterium drugs, by Bethany Halford
    • I think the best part of the article was the scientist saying "people always come to me as if this is a new idea, and I have to warn them..." 
  • Cheryl Hogue has a long article about the recent revision to TSCA.
  • New helium field discovery (article by Marc Reisch)
    • There's some media criticism to be done (not about C&EN!) about how this story played out in the scientific press. A lot of sites were just about straight copies of the press release, there were a couple of short articles that debunked the "helium shortage" narrative. 
    • All of that said, I would really like to know what the overall helium industry thinks of this new discovery; I suspect it is not as world-shattering as the discoverers think, but we shall see! (I suspect they would say that it is the discovery method itself they are most pleased about.)
  • The Charest settlement, covered by Jyllian Kemsley. 
    • Don't miss the comment from the former director of med chem at the Broad Institute. 
  • Bibiana Campos Seijo doesn't have happy things to say about Brexit.

15 comments:

  1. The article on deuterium drugs contains rather misleading statements about CANDU reactors using heavy water and non-enriched uranium fuel as somehow being more economic than other designs. In fact, CANDU is no longer competitive because of high capital costs of building this type of nuclear reactors, and comparably high amount of spent fuel waste they generate

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  2. Is it coincidental that Charest is at a Investment Firm he founded? How difficult do you think it was to explain in an interview why he was suing former PI and University?

    RE I find the comment odd as I believe the rules for assignment of inventorship are well codified therefore unless the Harvard Lawyers somehow have a way to interpret those rules differently would not expect great flexibility in who goes on a patent. On the other hand have seen company policies that appeared to conflict with the rules by allowing people who had no direct contributions to be named (i.e. Under R&D management and VP types).

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    1. Anonymous 3:53: This Charest/Harvard case had nothing to do with inventorship, it was issues around the division of royalties.

      There are no "rules" around inventorship. There is specific legal language and definition. I know that the law is often not followed in the corporate world (I've witnessed it), but that doesn't make those examples legal, nor would they hold up in court if they ever went there.

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    3. Anon 9:22 my inventorship reference was to the aforementioned comment attached to the C&EN article that stated "Harvard system for assigning inventorship was always quite bizarre, and very different from the system used at big companies" because what I termed as "rules" I know are indeed codified with specific legal language and definition therefore would supposedly promote certain consistency. Based on your observations plus my own regarding adherence practices maybe its the big companies assignments that are misaligned and not so much Harvard's as implied by the commentator?

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    4. Although inventorship is codified with specific legal language and definition, some PI's and universities still assign inventorship just like they assign authorship. Especially if the university uses outside legal firms - I've seen it happen many times. The issue of royalty payment can be a nebulous depending on the institution. Some allow the PI to determine the % awarded the other inventors, where others have the % agreed to upfront of filing the patent. This is a much better way - each inventor can see what their contribution % is from the beginning - now this will change, just as inventors can change, depending on which claims actually get allowed. But, it is not uncommon to have issues with royalty payments in an academic setting - some (a few mostly) can actually add up to significant payouts (licensing figure in the $8+M and universities allowing ~40% distribution) in the hundred of thousands of dollars (or more) to an individual. The licensing I've been involved with has each individual shown so everyone sees what everyone gets - which can cause some issues (and has caused issues) which are not easy to deal with after the fact. None of my examples went as far as a lawsuit, but long enough to hold up payment.

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    5. Anon 9:22 here. The Complaint and Decision in this case are both publicly available, you can read about the royalty issues, percentages, and all the sordid details:
      Complaint: http://www.universalhub.com/files/charest-complaint.pdf
      Judge's decision: http://tinyurl.com/hjgn9jc

      I've spent 30+ years in industry (petrochemicals). Inventorship there is often loose simply because no one really cares too much about the real legal definitions and potential ramifications. The reason is simple - there are no royalty payments to employees. I am the inventor on three technologies now running in plants somewhere, the sole inventor on one of them. My reward was a good rating ("exceeds expectations") the year it was commercialized which eventually helped with a promotion. But royalties or a cut of the pie? No way - I signed away my rights to that the first day on the job. Thus, there is little reason for individuals in such environments to take inventorship too seriously, there is just no incentive. I suppose one recourse for Harvard and other institutions is to take the industry approach - have all grad students, postdocs, etc. sign away their intellectual property rights to the university before beginning work. If they don't sign then they can go work somewhere else.

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    6. There are reasons in industry to care about inventorship - patents can be invalidated if this is not correct. May not happen very often, but if there was a case in which two companies filed complaints over a patent (see Gilead/Merck) and it was obvious the inventors were incorrect, there could be a reason to invalidate. So, it's not something to loosely assess. Yes, you are correct, you don't receive royalties (at least not in the US, but some European companies employees do). However, you cannot equate a university setting and an industrial setting as the same with respect to signing over rights. Industry pays your salary, pays your lab supplies, etc. Most universities do not. The PI has a funded lab outside of the university - the PI simply "works" at the university - especially true for 100% soft-money institutions. It very much an apples and oranges comparison.

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  3. Does anyone think that the EU accelerated the decline of British chemical/pharmaceutical research? Like the US' concentrating everyone in Boston, except with no barriers everyone went to Germany instead of Britain?

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  4. I don't think it's a coincidence (tho charest didn't work for his own firm when the suit was filed). Having worked both as a chemist and in finance, my impression is scientists are much more likely to be happy with whatever scraps they get, while finance ppl try to maximize their share. Definitely more backbone.

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    1. Although agree most scientist are accustomed to getting just scraps (beyond a salary) its often due to accepting circumstance where the Finance/MBA types rig the system to maximize their own benefits over others. What you call backbone is likely classified as greed.

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    2. First against the wallJuly 6, 2016 at 3:40 PM

      Until they start outsourcing finance people there is a huge difference in bargaining ability between them and scientists. "Oh Chemist, you don't like your cut of the pie? Well, I'm sure the 3(ish) WuXi scientists we just replaced you with won't have the same problem."

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    3. You're talking to a globalist, there. To them our disposability is a feature not a bug.

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  5. Which were the debunking helium find articles, CJ? Everything I've seen has been joky and uncritical.

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    1. http://www.wired.com/2016/06/dire-helium-shortage-vastly-inflated/

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