Identity Verified Thinker in Business / Industries / Pharmaceuticals
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.
Apr. 6, 2012 4:31 am
If the shoe fits, wear it. In my Tuesday blog I featured a pharmaceutical company report featuring 11 molecules in late-stage development with submissions for four of them “expected in the forthcoming year”. Of the 11 molecules one was indeed approved the following year. Two more were approved 5 years later - though subsequently one had to be withdrawn due to safety concerns. The...  Read More
Apr. 3, 2012 1:12 pm
Twenty years in pharmaceuticals and just two of my projects made it to the market place. And, in truth, I was one of the lucky ones. Many scientists spend their entire professional lives working on molecules that never make it to market. It really is no surprise to them to hear that pharmaceutical development is an expensive and risky business . And it was always amusing to read of our...  Read More
Mar. 30, 2012 9:53 am
High attrition is not the problem. Late stage attrition is the problem. In pharmaceuticals, late stage attrition hurts. Ask AstraZeneca. Or their partner, Targacept. AstraZeneca sought to boost their R&D pipeline in a joint venture with Targacept. Targacept holds the rights to several new molecular entities for the treatment of depression and for the treatment of Alzheimer’s. In...  Read More
Mar. 27, 2012 3:00 pm
Fast-Fail thinking is not without its critics. The idea that in high risk businesses such as pharmaceuticals the key to success is to eliminate marginal or failing products as quickly as possible - to increase the "failure" rate - is seen by many people not just as counterintuitive but palpably false. We have a technical term for such people. We call them morons. Norman...  Read More
Mar. 26, 2012 3:35 pm
CNN ran a story last week on prostate cancer . 'Cutting' your risk of prostate cancer CNN The story contained details of an observational study reporting a 15% reduction in relative risk of prostate cancer amongst men circumcised before first intercourse. The story was then picked up by half the rest of the world. Now I’ve already droned on about the problems of...  Read More
Mar. 25, 2012 12:02 pm
Fast-Fail strategies first arose in R&D in the pharmaceutical industry during the early 1990s. At that time the prevailing thinking was that increasing development speed would reduce time to market. And reducing time to market would in turn maximize the patent-protected lifetime of products. This thinking led to a rash of development speed initiatives. However, these development speed...  Read More
Mar. 22, 2012 3:40 pm
In a race, the quickest runner can never overtake the slowest, since the pursuer must first reach the point whence the pursued started, so that the slower must always hold a lead. Aristotle, Physics VI:9, 239b15 There's an old joke about a mathematician and a statistician. The joke is based on the Paradox of Achilles and the Tortoise . In this paradox, Achilles is in a footrace...  Read More
Mar. 14, 2012 4:18 pm
Alarm bells ring whenever I see these words in a news headline: Promising Exciting Breakthrough Wonder Cure Miracle Dramatic Increase Dramatic Decrease Doubles the Risk Halves the Risk Ban these words ? Maybe it’s just me? Maybe I’m becoming cynical? Maybe I've seen the story just too many times? Like the Pleconaril story [1] . A putative cure for the...  Read More
Mar. 13, 2012 2:00 pm
Merton’s Law or Merton's Observation states: “Stick around too long in science and they name a Law after you.” Merton’s Law is based on the observation that many discoveries are attributed to people who never discovered them. Merton’s Law is a corollary of the better known Stigler’s Law. Stigler’s Law states: "No scientific discovery is named after its original discoverer." And Stephen...  Read More
Mar. 12, 2012 4:16 pm
According to experts any statement that begins “according to experts” should be treated as unsafe. Norman Einstein, CEO Scientific Radicals Health issues make for compelling reading. Cancer risks in particular are attention grabbing. So, it’s no surprise to see cancer in the headlines. Not a day goes by without some news item. Salty soups can increase cancer risk, says...  Read More
Mar. 8, 2012 2:53 pm
Britain might be riding the wave of a super-fast broadband revolution, but for 49% who get less than the national average broadband speed, the wave isn't causing so much a splash as a ripple. Julia Stent Yes - you read it correctly. I was shocked to learn that almost half of all homes in the UK have broadband speeds that are less than the national average. As the BBC website...  Read More
Mar. 6, 2012 2:46 pm
Technology is dominated by two types of people: those who understand what they do not manage, and those who manage what they do not understand. Putt's Law What is your attitude to new technologies? Are you an early adopter, quick to embrace the new technology? Or a complete technophobe who shies away from the bleeding edge of technology? This video clip reminds us that there...  Read More
Mar. 4, 2012 12:34 pm
Drug development is a high risk business characterized by high attrition rates [1-5] . In pharmaceuticals, the probability ( p ) of a molecule making it to market is low and the attrition rate (1 -p ) is high. But attrition is not a bad thing [6-8] . For attrition means that we are successfully clearing the pipeline of marginal or failing medicines. What we cannot afford are costly late-stage...  Read More
Feb. 29, 2012 12:19 pm
71% of scientists use questionable methods when presenting data. Call me a cynic, but when presented with any statistic one of the first questions I ask is “Who is the author?” Specifically, who is the source, what is their angle, and what spin are they likely to place on the data. I have to dig a bit. So, I dug a bit. At first glance, the...  Read More
Feb. 27, 2012 1:16 pm
What is the biggest problem facing the pharmaceutical industry? Reading the literature, following the business pages and listening to industry commentary we might be tempted to believe that the answer is high attrition rates [1-5] . And attrition is important. Drug development is a high risk business. The probability (p) of a molecule making it to market is low and the attrition rate (1-p) is...  Read More
Feb. 23, 2012 1:32 pm
Fast Fail strategies work by rapidly clearing the development pipeline of marginal products releasing development resources to focus on more promising products (Lendrem, 1995). The Quick-Kill model demonstrates that Fast Fail strategies will: shorten the expected time to market, even as the cycle time for successful projects increases (the Development Speed Paradox ) increase development...  Read More
Feb. 22, 2012 3:21 pm
The Online Dating Problem is a variation on the Secretary Problem - a famous problem in optimal stopping theory. The original form of the problem goes something as follows. Imagine an administrator willing to hire the best secretary out of n rankable applicants for a position. The applicants are interviewed one-by-one in random order. A decision about each particular applicant is to be...  Read More
Feb. 14, 2012 1:00 pm
Doubling a very small number doesn't make it much bigger. Twice almost-nothing is still almost-nothing. Spiegelhalter's Law Bacon sandwiches are big news right now in the UK. A staple of the English diet,recent studies demonstrating increased cancer risks associated with eating bacon sandwiches have dismayed the great British public. Sadly, the quality of the reporting...  Read More
Feb. 7, 2012 4:09 pm
I belong to no organized party. I am a Democrat. Will Rogers (1879-1935) actor, humorist, political columnist Will Rogers was born William Penn Adair Rogers on the Dog Iron Ranch in Indian Territory in what is now Oklahoma. One quarter Cherokee he later quipped that his ancestors didn't come over on the Mayflower but they "met the boat." The youngest of eight children Rogers...  Read More
Jan. 30, 2012 2:41 pm
In explanations of human activities, both muddling through and incompetence are under-estimated, and both rational optimizing and conspiracy over-estimated. Edward Tufte Most employees believe that management behavior has a rational but cynical basis (Below Left). The reality is that many dysfunctional management behaviors arise from a potent mix of muddling through and...  Read More
Jan. 23, 2012 1:54 pm
In R&D we should consider a strategy that quickly kills failing products even if this means additional time for subsequent re-work or additional expense. Take Home Message Elsewhere in this blog we've looked at how the Quick-Kill™ model of drug development assumes drug discovery is a stochastic process and considered the simplest case where the development process is divided...  Read More
Jan. 19, 2012 1:55 pm
No scientific discovery is named after its original discoverer. Stephen Stigler Stigler's Law was formulated by the sociologist Robert K. Merton. Stephen Stigler deliberately called this law Stigler's Law to illustrate this law in action. Simpson's Paradox is another example of Stigler's Law in action. The paradox occurs when a correlation present in different groups is reversed...  Read More
Jan. 10, 2012 2:41 pm
'T ain't what you do it's the way that you do it, That's what gets results. Ella Fitzgerald The furore surrounding the scientific fraud perpetrated by Diederik Stapel continued this week with the further retraction of scientific papers from mainstream scientific journals. Not surprisingly, other scientists have sought to distance themselves. And many in the "hard" sciences -...  Read More
Jan. 6, 2012 12:37 pm
Stephen William Hawking , CBE, FRS, FRSA is an English theoretical physicist and cosmologist. He is an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, a lifetime member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, and in 2009 was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the United States. Hawking was the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge...  Read More
Jan. 2, 2012 2:07 pm
The evolution of highly sensitive bulls**t detectors allows people to navigate entire continents in complete corporate darkness. Norman Einstein, CEO, Scientific Radicals Bulls hit may be of huge anthropological and psycholinguistic interest, but people are not stupid. Sometimes the membership benefits may induce them to join the club; to dance the corporate dance. But they can...  Read More
Dec. 27, 2011 4:14 am
The Jevons Paradox states that with technological progress the efficiency with which a resource is used increases leading to a paradoxical increase in the rate of consumption of that resource. In 1865 the English economist William Stanley Jevons observed that technological improvements that increased the efficiency of coal-use led to the increased consumption of coal in a wide range of...  Read More
Dec. 20, 2011 11:15 am
Change is hard because people overestimate the value of what they have—and underestimate the value of what they may gain by giving that up. We must show people that what they have is not as valuable as they believe. They may find this uncomfortable. If you want to make enemies, try to change something. Woodrow Wilson Moreover, they will not see the value of what...  Read More
Dec. 13, 2011 2:08 pm
It is not enough to know the solution. One must go on to solve the problem. Norman Einstein, CEO Scientific Radicals Fast Fail strategies work by rapidly clearing the development pipeline of marginal products releasing development resources to focus on more promising products (Lendrem, 1995). The Quick-Kill model demonstrates that Fast Fail strategies will: shorten the expected...  Read More
Dec. 8, 2011 12:38 pm
Listen up folks, this is important. To minimize time to market we take tasks normally performed in serial order and, except where subject to the laws of physics or nature, we push those tasks into parallel. This increases the burn rate but reduces time to market. Providing the activities are well coordinated then fast-tracking in this way can lead to significant reductions in cycle...  Read More
Dec. 6, 2011 1:25 pm
The best way to have a good idea is to have a lot of ideas. Linus Pauling People are not stupid. They watch their managers. They listen. And they learn very quickly that innovative behaviours can be potentially career-threatening. As inertia gains momentum within an organization people adapt; they demonstrate “learned helplessness”. Or they move on to join your rivals. The good...  Read More

No Worries, We Are NOT Vulnerable To The OpenSSL Bug

We do not use OpenSSL here at or No need to worry or change passwords here because of the widely-publicized Heartbleed Bug. We have suffered two short outages recently presumably because much of the Internet transport infrastructure does rely on OpenSSL and they have been updating their systems.

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