...Ironwood began holding “drug wakes” to ease the minds of employees who were upset when the company’s research for its first drug program failed, R&D chief Mark Currie said. The company wanted to dispel concerns that staff would lose their jobs*, while helping them to move on to the next project. The most recent event, held last year for a drug for diabetic gastroparesis (a stomach condition), was Ironwood’s sixth drug wake.
The company had been working on the drug for more than a decade. As they entered the party on Aug. 9, employees walked past a cooler of beer bottles and a poster memorializing the failed compound. On a podium inside, cupcakes were frosted with letters spelling out the amino-acid sequence that made up the drug. Speakers recalled the patients who had shared their stories of living with the painful condition, while toasting the molecule’s “intestinal fortitude.”
“I will carry it with me forever,” said Carolyn Higgins, the project’s manager. The molecule, Ms. Higgins said, enjoyed the kind of life that any peptide could “hope for.”I really think this could contribute to a good atmosphere at a company; it's nice when higher-ups can acknowledge good work, even when things don't quite work out. (I presume that the parties when drugs actually are approved are a lot bigger.)
*It seems worth noting that Ironwood has indeed had layoffs in the past; it's not clear to me how coupled or uncoupled those layoffs have been to drug failures.