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Family movie night can be fraught in biotech households.

Earlier this month, John Crowley, CEO of Amicus Therapeutics, cued up “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” as a refresher before the debut of its blockbuster sequel. Soon his living room played host to a man with roughly his job, working at a firm not unlike his, but whose greed and moral depravity made him the movie’s villain.

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  • As a caregiver for a stage IV cancer pt., I see too much worry in the private biotech sector about stockholders /corporate issues in general . When a dying pt. can’t call a co. to ask about compassionate use but you can call an 800 investors phone line 24/7 – there’s a problem . When PHRMA lobbyists gut the Andrea Sloan Compassionate Use Reform Act there’s a problem . And so on … they make amazing drugs but give pathetically little pre – approval access to their drugs – even as they promote the drugs for accelerated approval . The ” small ” biotechs cry that they’re too small to give compassion, as they pay their CEOs tens of millions $$. They could save more lives , prolong more lives , expand science – just by spending a few more million $$ on compassion for the dying. It would also gain them great PR . A few bigger co.’s are getting it, most are not. We pt.’s want a lot more than a cheap thank you at the end of a commercial.

  • Great article and very needed.
    Always something the bothers me. I call it Science Horror myself and I do think that for people that never visits a lab or had talked to a real scientist. Movies and TV series are the only times they get any exposure to it. Hence is important to call out this trend that doesn’t even take in account ethics committees or how long it takes to go from theory to human trials.
    I do like that we had seen a couple of movies were scientists are the heroes like “Interstellar” so I suggest you to do a sequel of this with science saving the world so we can at least promote those too.

  • Nice piece. There is also an interesting uptick in television treatments of dystopias such as ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ and ‘The Man in the High Castle’ which may be related.

    • Yes, maids and castles but why not just make U-turn and blame it on Marty iFelman’s AI?

  • Big Pharma makes an easy villain because it’s so close to the truth. These corporations, like cigarette companies, are out to make money and they only care about the bottom line. They are skewing research and they produce drugs that do more harm than good. Often the most beneficial research is coming from government grant funded programs not from Big Pharma – they just take the results and try to profit off them. I do not deny that many serious and well-meaning scientists work for Big Pharma however the amount of money being tossed around is influencing the results, and what results are published. The design of a study can really affect the results you get. If you design a study to produce the results you want that’s a poor study.

  • An interesting focus might be on the antibiotics, antihypertensives, anti-cholesterol, etc., etc., drugs manufactured, sold and taken every day to keep people healthy and functioning beyond what normally they could have expected even 20 years ago

  • To be fair, it’s not “biotech” that’s the villain here, but unintended consequences, which are the villains of most dystopian fiction.

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