Trilogy Tidings
April 2011
in this issue
Gaining Clinical Insight with Physician Interviews
Data that Drive R&D Investment Decisions
Light Therapy for Alzheimer's Disease?
Resources from our Archives
What does Trilogy do?

     This month I touch on three topics, all of which have to do with innovation in the life sciences and healthcare.  First, we must understand the means and methods by which patients are treated -- today and tomorrow; we can best accomplish this by informed dialogs with physicians.  Second, investment decisions must be made to conduct the R&D that brings new methods and new products to the clinic.  Third, out-of-the-box thinking and radical ideas occasionally transform patient care; we must always be receptive to that possibility.

     I hope you appreciate the linkage among these three topics.




 Change Ahead






Gaining Clinical Insight with Physician Interviews 

DoctorPerhaps you've heard that physicians are losing control of healthcare delivery, gradually being usurped in their care decisions by the institutional green-eyeshade crowd, insurers and governments.  Don't you believe it!  Their incomes may get squeezed a bit in the coming years but their influence on care decisions will not be significantly diminished.  And, they will remain the key gatekeepers and arbiters of new-technology adoption.  Their views and their practices will continue to matter, so you must talk with them.

     Several years ago I wrote a short piece for our clients and colleagues on interviewing physicians for purposes of market research.  Those thoughts have resurfaced as the inaugural contribution to Quirk's Research Industry Voices blog.  (Quirk's is a journal and online community for the market research crowd.)  Their editors seemed to think that topic still has resonance, and I humbly agree.  Check out the blog post to read (or re-read) my thoughts on wrenching information and insight from physicians.

Data that Drive R&D Investment Decisions 

Drug DevelopmentThe common wisdom is that the US life science community - in fact US industry generally - is losing its long-standing edge in innovation.  This seems to be a fact, based on everything I read on the subject.  We are aiming lower for minor improvements and avoiding investing in potential breakthroughs that are seen to be risky and expensive.  Risky, for sure.  Expensive?  Maybe not.

     Donald Light, a well-established critic of the pharmaceutical industry, co-authored a recent and very provocative article - a blistering attack actually - in BioSocieties on what he calls the mythology of the high costs of pharmaceutical research.  Light focuses on a landmark study conducted in 2003 by the Tufts Center for the Study of Drug Development.  That study concluded that the cost to discover and bring a new drug to market was $802 million in 2000. That figure has been updated by 64 per cent to $1.32 billion in 2006 (PhRMA, 2009).  Light rather convincingly debunks the Tuft study's findings and methods, ultimately concluding that the actual median cost to discover and commercialize a new drug in 2000 was $43.4 million.  That is a remarkable conclusion that strains credibility!  I commend the article to you to decide for yourself.


     My purpose is not to rehash or debate Light's arguments but to raise a larger point.  What if he is at least partially correct?  Might his arguments apply to other life science sectors as well - diagnostics, devices, lab tools?  Is it possible that executives of life science companies, and their investors, are deluding themselves about the real costs of developing breakthrough treatments and diagnostics?  Could it be that aiming high is not much more expensive than aiming low?  Just thinkin'.
Light Therapy for Alzheimer's Disease? 

Alzheimer'sAn alternative, non-drug treatment of AD is in the works.  Time will tell if its effectiveness is proven - and count me as a skeptic - but it would be wonderful news indeed for AD patients if it is demonstrated to be even partially helpful in alleviating symptoms of this terrible disease.

     This proposed treatment of AD is based upon the premise that the disease may be caused by a deficiency of blood flow in the brain over time.  Increase blood flow and you reduce inflammation and improve patients' memories.  The specific technology, originally devised by Robert Poyton at the University of Colorado in 2006 and now being further developed by Clarimedix in Boulder, is based upon light-triggered localized production of nitrous oxide, a substance long known to enhance blood flow.  The Clarimedix implementation takes the form of an LED patch applied externally over the carotid artery.

     Let's hope this technology can be commercialized quickly and is proven to work for at least some patients.  However, I don't see a major impact on the medical device industry as a whole in any event; the implementation appears to be very straightforward, inexpensive and readily mimicked.

Resources from our Archives 
     Check out our Reading Room to view my published articles, presentations and white papers on a variety of topics.


     And, you can examine an archive of my prior newsletters (since February 2007).


What does Trilogy do? 
     Trilogy Associates facilitates business growth and renewal through commercialization of new products, providing the following services:
  • Opportunity assessment
  • Business planning and enterprise growth strategies
  • New-product conceptualization, commercialization and marketing
  • Market research and competitive assessment
  • Business development and partnering
  • Market and technological due diligence
  • Assessment of the therapeutic and diagnostic potential of novel technologies
  • Design of efficient and effective development strategies for early-stage biomedical products
  • Business and technical writing/publishing

     Inquiries to establish whether and how we might support your business initiatives are always welcome.  Contact us.  And check out our partner, Innovalyst, A Catalyst for Innovation.

Contact Information
ContactInfoJoseph J. Kalinowski, Principal
LinkedIn Profile: www.linkedin.com/in/trilogy