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Is Concert Pharmaceuticals’ approach to drug development an artful way around patent law, or a safer route to build a drug? Maybe both.

The Massachusetts company is developing close facsimiles to the cystic fibrosis drug Kalydeco and the cancer drug Jakafi. They’re not quite biosimilars, nor are they generics — they’re therapies that are just different enough structurally from the established drugs to be considered unique pharmaceuticals.


How does Concert do it? It essentially swaps out the hydrogen in the drugs’ molecular structure for deuterium, which is basically a heavy version of hydrogen.

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