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Dennis Lendrem
Dennis Lendrem
MSc in Medical Statistics, PhD from Oxford. Background in Pharmaceutical R&D. Contributor to popular magazines and trade magazines including Scrip Magazine, New Scientist and the Economist. Formerly Editor of the journal Pharmaceutical Statistics.
Jan. 30, 2014 12:38 am
Robert's Rules are a set of guidelines and documentation standards for running a meeting. In particular they set standards for keeping minutes that are still in use today. Anyone familiar with committee work will have encountered Robert's Rules . First published in 1876, Robert's Rules of Order were written by Brigadier General Henry Martyn Robert. He wrote the manual in response to his...  Read More
Jan. 18, 2014 7:16 am
A very good essay from Cathy O'Neil: On Being A Data Skeptic addressing many of the key topics in data science, such as hard to measure metrics, choosing proxies, equating numbers with behaviours, perverse incentives, unintended consequences, modelling, gaming and the importance of framing questions. Framing the question well is...the hardest part about being a good data scientist. ...  Read More
Jan. 6, 2014 11:11 am
An interesting analysis of development candidate proposals at AstraZeneca. This looks at smart loading of the development cycle in order to reduce late-stage attrition. By front loading the development life cycle with 14-day repeated dose toxicity studies and supplementary cardiovascular studies we can expect to see a halving of subsequent attrition rates on safety grounds. Front loading...  Read More
Dec. 30, 2013 7:03 am
Thanks to Scientific Radicals for this perspective on Uri Bram 's chapter on Selection Bias in his excellent book Thinking Statistically . The Feedback Effect: Data based on feedback systems subject to selection bias are usually wrong. Selection Bias: Data where the method of collecting the data is the dominant feature of the data. Bosses often have ideas about their organization...  Read More
Dec. 18, 2013 12:11 pm
A flawed, but interesting, analysis of the survival time of chocolates in a UK hospital published recently in the British Medical Journal. Findings From our observational study, chocolate survival in a hospital ward was relatively short, and was modelled well by an exponential decay model. Roses chocolates were preferentially consumed to Quality Street chocolates in a ward setting....  Read More
Dec. 16, 2013 10:59 am
This week marks the 20th anniversary of the passing of Dr W. Edwards Deming on 20 th December 1993. Obituary New York Times Obituary The Independent ASQ Obituary In 1986 I read his book “Out of the Crisis” from cover to cover. I was an instant convert. All work is a process . All processes are subject to variability. Understanding that variability is the key. I...  Read More
Dec. 8, 2013 2:32 pm
Early Bird View: In pharmaceutical development, the termination of a potential drug candidate, with expected returns of, say, US$ 1bn per annum represents a significant loss to the organization. As a result, R&D teams and R&D management are often reluctant to terminate scientific projects. This gives rise to a bias in favour of continued development – the progression-seeking bias....  Read More
Dec. 2, 2013 10:17 am
The M25 Effect is the observation that reducing R&D development speed can give rise to an increase in R&D throughput. It is named after London's famous orbital motorway - the M25 - where reducing speed limits led to an increase in traffic throughput. The M25 Effect is a corollary of the Development Speed Paradox.  Read More
Nov. 26, 2013 9:45 am
I know some of you have seen this before but for those who missed it this is your opportunity to benchmark your organization against the world's most dysfunctional corporation - Scientific Radicals A member of your staff comes to you with a fully functional, working prototype of an Invisibility Cloak. What would be the response of people in your department? Marketing Pointed out that...  Read More
Nov. 20, 2013 9:19 am
Did unthinking attempts to minimize cycle time in R&D in the 1990s precipitate the current pharmaceutical R&D productivity crisis? The Development Speed Paradox: Pharmaceutical R&D Productivity from Dennis Lendrem For those on a tight schedule, the answer is "Yes". Minimizing the cycle time of successful molecules sub-optimized the R&D process, increasing R&D...  Read More
Nov. 18, 2013 10:31 am
An interesting angle on publication bias - the tendency for statistically significant results to be over-represented in the literature. Publication Bias Has this subject been done to death? I don't think so.  Read More
Nov. 5, 2013 12:02 pm
Confirmation bias describes the tendency for people to favor information that confirms their beliefs. I've spent more than 30 years working with scientists. During that time I've been given full and unrestricted access to their data - warts and all. And at times I've been taken aback at the breathtaking audacity of scientists in ignoring data that do not confirm their beliefs. On one...  Read More
Oct. 1, 2013 10:18 am
Although the finding that most forecasts are poor is not surprising...the magnitude and extent of the error in forecasting is troubling. Cha M, Rifai B, Sarraf P. 2013 Interesting Factoids: 65% of forecasts overestimate sales. 20% overestimate sales by >160% The size of the overestimate decreases post-launch: but they are still overestimated by around 40%. Reference:...  Read More
Sep. 30, 2013 6:51 am
In pharma, project teams are often reluctant to recommend termination of their projects. The reluctance to terminate the development of a potentially successful product may be exacerbated by a number of cognitive biases: Decisions to terminate projects are often viewed as losses and project teams tend to be loss averse. Teams may commit the sunk costs fallacy in arguing that a project is...  Read More
Sep. 24, 2013 10:37 am
Evaluating risk in the face of uncertainty is one of the cornerstones of modern, evidence-based medicine. Take screening for instance. Screening is not without risk. And the results of screening are not without uncertainty. Anaesthesia, for example, is not without risk. Surgery is not without risk; surgical outcomes often uncertain. Drug treatments may not be without side effects. And not all...  Read More
Sep. 11, 2013 9:56 am
The Development Speed Paradox – the greater the development speed, the longer the expected time to market. The faster you go, the longer it takes. Executive Summary: · In the 1990s the pharmaceutical industry sought to increase R&D productivity by increasing development speed and reducing development cycle times. · Such development speed initiatives shortened the development time of ...  Read More
Sep. 5, 2013 11:16 am
The strong form of the Development Speed Paradox states that the faster the speed of development the longer the expected time to first marketing authorization approval. The original trade magazine article came out in 1995 [1] but the more learned version has been accepted by the journal Drug Discovery Today . Did Development Speed Initiatives in the 1990s Precipitate the...  Read More
Sep. 3, 2013 11:53 am
London, England. 1895. Concerned by the growing problem of horse droppings in the nation's capital the Times newspaper asks what is to be done? The Times correspondent calculates that if the capital's horse population continues to grow then London will be nine feet deep in horse manure by 1950. But he was wrong. By 1950 horse manure was detectable only in trace quantities on the streets...  Read More
Jul. 30, 2013 11:09 am
Nancy Duarte presents an interesting analysis of what makes a great talk: The Secret Structure of a Great Talk Note that while she makes reference to the use of audio-visual props during the analysis of the Steve Jobs presentation, at no point does she urge you to repeat the entire content of your 300 Powerpoint slides in a dull monotone until your audience have lost the will to live. Nor...  Read More
Jul. 4, 2013 11:45 am
Ninety percent of everything is crap. Theodore Sturgeon In the pharmaceutical industry 90% of the stuff we work on is crap and never gets to see the light of day. The attrition rate in pharma is high, most molecules never get to market and many scientists spend their entire careers in the industry without ever working on a successful molecule. So I thought I understood...  Read More
Jul. 3, 2013 2:15 am
Recently, I bumped into Anatol Rapoport’s Rules of Engagement again[1]. Re-express your opponent’s position so clearly, vividly, and fairly that your opponent says, “Thanks, I wish I’d put it so elegantly.” List any points of agreement – especially if they are not matters of general or widespread agreement. Specifically mention anything you learned from your opponent. Only then...  Read More
Jun. 20, 2013 8:17 am
I stumbled upon some definitions of virtuous and vicious cyles with examples. A virtuous circle: An employer's investment in his employees’ ability to provide superior service to customers can be seen as a virtuous circle. Effort spent in selecting and training employees and creating a corporate culture in which they are empowered can lead to increased employee satisfaction and employee...  Read More
Jun. 4, 2013 10:26 am
Twenty years ago Daniel Kahneman and Dan Lovallo observed: Decision makers have a strong tendency to consider problems as unique. They isolate the current choice from future opportunities and neglect the statistics of the past in evaluating current plans, Kahneman D, Lovallo D 1993 Timid Choices and Bold Forecasts, Management Science, 39(10),17-32 The result? Timid,...  Read More
May 27, 2013 5:31 am
If R&D costs were treated as assets then it is likely they would lead to the overstatement of those assets, the understatement of expenses, and hence the overstatement of income. R&D costs associated with failed projects - the majority of projects - might be smuggled in as assets to reduce expenses and inflate profits. Instead, they are treated according to Generally Accepted Accounting...  Read More
May 25, 2013 4:43 am
Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity. Hanlon's Razor On the one hand we have a group of people who believe pharmaceutical R&D is expensive and R&D costs are rising . Many of this group believe we are in the middle of a pharmaceutical innovation crisis. This group lobby for and support tax concessions that recognize this. On the other hand we...  Read More
May 16, 2013 7:14 am
In the real world, project managers are supposed to be good at making stuff happen. But how would they manage a project - like a family of five going on holiday, f rom London to Hong Kong? The budget is tight, say, £3,000. What happens if the project runs like the average real world project with average overrun, average delays and the usual constraints? Well if this project was...  Read More
May 13, 2013 2:37 am
More than 30% of software projects are cancelled before completion. And 90% of pharmaceutical products are cancelled before FDA submission. Many project teams in these industries have experience of project termination. Yet optimism in project teams is rife. Failure is not part of the team's vocabulary. And project teams find it hard to say goodbye to a project. The result is that many...  Read More
Apr. 25, 2013 1:17 am
Early Bird View: In drug development, the marginal development costs associated with a decision to continue development may seem trivial compared to the potential losses associated with a decision to terminate a potentially marketable molecule. For this reason project teams tend to continue with development even in the face of mounting evidence that drug development should be...  Read More
Apr. 22, 2013 12:10 pm
When George Price died in 1975, his funeral in London was attended by two leading evolutionary biologists - Bill Hamilton and John Maynard Smith – and five homeless men. All seven men had come to mourn an eccentric American genius who helped solve the riddle of how altruism could exist in a world driven by survival of the fittest. The natural world is full of examples of such altruistic...  Read More
Apr. 17, 2013 8:11 am
The PhD system is essential preparation for the life of disappointment and loneliness that is scientific research. Norman Einstein, CEO Scientific Radicals I have always believed that scientific research is another domain where a form of optimism is essential to success: I have yet to meet a successful scientist who lacks the ability to exaggerate the importance of what he...  Read More
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