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.
Dec. 7, 2012 7:08 am
Parallelism is the process by which research and development activities are placed in parallel with each other in order to minimize the expected time to market for successful products. And when every month saved represents another month of patent-protected sales, the savings that arise from placing tasks in parallel are an alluring prospect. Unfortunately, for high risk processes - such as...  Read More
Nov. 27, 2012 3:52 pm
Goldacre, B. 2012 Bad Pharma Fourth Estate, London Everyone in the pharmaceutical industry should read this book. (If for no better reason than that everyone outside of the industry is reading this book.) The take home message for those outside the industry is that “drugs are tested by the people who manufacture them, in poorly designed trials, on hopelessly small numbers of weird,...  Read More
Nov. 21, 2012 1:33 pm
There are people who, instead of listening to what is being said to them, are already listening to what they are going to say themselves. Albert Guinon The opposite of talking isn't listening. The opposite of talking is waiting. Fran Lebowitz Bore, n.: A person who talks when you wish him to listen. Ambrose Bierce The title is an...  Read More
Nov. 9, 2012 12:55 pm
Accuracy is wildly over-rated: I don't care if it's inaccurate as long as it works. Norman Einstein, CEO Scientific Radicals In The Accuracy Paradox we learned that accuracy is not always helpful. And we learned that models can be very accurate without being especially useful. Similarly, screening tests can be very accurate without being especially useful. Here's an example. ...  Read More
Nov. 4, 2012 6:06 am
All models are wrong, but some are more useful than others. George Box In the Accuracy Paradox we observed that inaccurate models can be more useful than accurate models. Bonini's Paradox takes this one step further and states: "As a model of a complex system becomes more complete, it becomes less understandable. Alternatively, as a model grows more realistic, it also...  Read More
Nov. 2, 2012 7:25 am
There is a negative association between obesity (as measured by high body mass index (BMI)) and various health conditions. Overweight people are often in bad shape. So, we might expect BMI to be a useful predictor of life-expectancy. But, paradoxically, BMI is poorly related to life-expectancy. In fact, obese individuals with chronic health conditions often have long life-expectancy. This...  Read More
Oct. 27, 2012 2:36 pm
Pharmaceutical R&D in the 1990s was dominated by development speed initiatives seeking to minimize the time taken to take a successful product to the market place. The problem with this approach is that most molecules do not make it to the market place. By maximizing development speed we optimize a process that occurs less than 10% of the time. In contrast, Fast-Fail strategies seek to...  Read More
Oct. 16, 2012 1:18 pm
"A good plan today is better than a perfect plan tomorrow" - General George Patton "Good plans shape good decisions." - Lester Robert Bittel "It's not the plan that's important, it's the planning." - Dr. Gramme Edwards "The plan is toast as soon as the project starts. It's the planning that's important." - John "Jack" Fisher "Things going wrong are signs that the project is...  Read More
Oct. 14, 2012 8:43 am
All models are wrong. But some are more useful than others. George Box I was brought up with a simplistic model of the world. A world of right and wrong. A world of correct and incorrect. A world where accuracy was king. And then I stumbled upon mathematical modelling. This opened up a far more useful world. Instead of right and wrong I learned of useful and less useful. Of...  Read More
Oct. 11, 2012 5:58 am
At least half the mystery novels published violate the law that the solution, once revealed, must seem to be inevitable. Raymond Chandler This reminded me of the First Fundamental Law of Science . That a scientific truth, once revealed, must seem to be obvious. Norman Einstein, The Fundamental Laws of Science  Read More
Oct. 4, 2012 2:27 pm
The first rule of management is delegation. Don't try and do everything yourself because you can't. Anthea Turner Problems with delegation arise when people don’t understand what tasks have been delegated. And when they don’t understand the limits of the authority they have been delegated. This list is based on Tim Brighouse ’s Levels of Delegation. 1. Look into this problem....  Read More
Sep. 29, 2012 3:40 pm
I don't do subtext. If I think you are a waste of space, I will tell you that you are a waste of space. It's not always pleasant, but I'm not paid to be pleasant. Norman Einstein, CEO Scientific Radicals I've always been fascinated by the hidden language of subtext. Subtext refers to the undertone in a conversation - the unspoken thoughts and motives of people - what they really...  Read More
Sep. 27, 2012 11:06 am
What We Say and What We Mean The executive committee is looking at structures… The executive committee is hoping for a miracle That matter will be carefully considered Stop asking about that matter There will be further consultation needed… We need to talk to the usual heads first ...  Read More
Sep. 24, 2012 2:09 pm
Funny piece from Norman Einstein, CEO Scientific Radicals What your consultant says What your consultant means Sure, we can do that. I'm sure we can wing it. Sure, we do that. How hard can it be? Sure, we did that with another client only last month. We've done that once before. Sure, we do that all the time. ...  Read More
Sep. 20, 2012 2:39 pm
The Plain English Campaign has introduced a new tool for aspiring writers of simple, straightforward English. This organization has been fighting for crystal-clear communication since 1979. Their free Drivel Defence software allows users to analyze their writing. To look at ways of reducing complexity in their writing. Increasing simplicity. Seeking clarity. I tested it on some of my...  Read More
Sep. 18, 2012 2:23 pm
Language can be used both to facilitate and to block communication. The Code-Talker Paradox describes how human beings can create references that are mutually intelligible to each other but completely unintelligible to those unfamiliar with the structure and meaning of the signals. The name code talkers is strongly associated with bilingual Navajo speakers recruited during World War...  Read More
Sep. 13, 2012 1:17 pm
Always plan ahead. It wasn't raining when Noah built the ark. Richard Cushing The trouble is that planning requires cognitive effort. And many people seem to prefer the hard physical graft involved in clearing up a mess to the cognitive effort required to avoid it. A little risk management saves a lot of fan cleaning. Anon  Read More
Sep. 10, 2012 1:02 pm
What have these got in common? Consider the following three scenarios - one from the world of election polling, the second from the world of human heredity and the third from the world of neurophysiology. Polling? You want to know the election result before the count is completed? So you decide to conduct an exit poll. You stop the first person leaving the polling station and ask them...  Read More
Sep. 3, 2012 1:45 pm
The base rate fallacy , also called base rate neglect or base rate bias , is an error that occurs when the conditional probability of some hypothesis given some evidence is assessed without taking into account the prior probabilities. The base rate error happens when values of sensitivity and specificity, which depend only on the test itself, are used in place of positive predictive value...  Read More
Aug. 30, 2012 3:08 pm
If reproducibility may be a problem, conduct the test only once. Velilind's First Law of Experimentation Despite all the evidence to the contrary many people don't believe in variation. At least, not in their own data. You will try to get away without replication until the first time you get burnt. Lendrem's Corollary to Velilind's First Law  Read More
Aug. 26, 2012 4:26 am
Programming today is a race between software engineers striving to build bigger and better idiot-proof programs, and the Universe trying to produce bigger and better idiots. So far, the Universe is winning. Rick Cook Despite all the evidence to the contrary, humans do not believe in human error. In others, maybe, but not their own. Nowhere is this more obvious than in our use of...  Read More
Aug. 23, 2012 10:32 am
In the 1990s Business Process Engineering sought to minimize development speed by pushing R&D sub-processes into parallel - except where constrained by the laws of physics or nature eg. a six month stability study takes at least six months or a two year carcinogenicity study takes at least two years. However, there is an absolute limit to how much any system can be improved by simply pushing...  Read More
Aug. 6, 2012 12:51 pm
I have come to the conclusion that politics are too serious a matter to be left to the politicians. Ronald Reagan (1911-2004) There is a view that randomized controlled trials are probably one of the best ways of determining whether a government policy or intervention is working. That without such trials, the tiller of public policy remains at the mercy of cyclical swings in...  Read More
Jul. 31, 2012 1:40 pm
Appleton's Law The first 90% of a project takes 90% of the time available, while the last 10% of the project takes the remaining 90% of the time. See also Westheimer's Rule and Hofstadter's Law . Sometimes known as the 90:90 Rule The first 90 percent of the code accounts for the first 90 percent of the development time. The remaining 10 percent of the code accounts for the...  Read More
Jul. 26, 2012 3:15 am
Obviously, the money and the fast cars help, but... As an adolescent I aspired to lasting fame, I craved factual certainty, and I thirsted for a meaningful vision of human life - so I became a scientist. This is like becoming an archbishop so you can meet girls. M Cartmill Looking back on the late 70's, when scientific research spending in the UK dried to a trickle, my...  Read More
Jul. 25, 2012 12:51 pm
Braess’ Paradox states that: Adding extra capacity to a network may reduce network flow . Or, alternatively: Reducing network capacity may increase network flow . How can that be? And what does it tell us about R&D? Take a look at the simple network in Figure 1. Assume we have 4000 vehicles we need to get from A to B. We have two alternative routes – either route ACB or...  Read More
Jul. 22, 2012 12:22 pm
"Do you floss your teeth regularly?" Careful how you answer this question. One of the questions asked by many of the web-based life expectancy calculators is "Do you floss your teeth regularly?" So what, you might ask, has dental flossing got to do with the price of eggs? Is oral hygiene a useful predictor of life expectancy? Well, the short answer is that dental flossing is a...  Read More
Jul. 20, 2012 2:37 pm
People who retire at 55 years of age live longer than those who retire at 65. True or False? The BBC does a great show on "Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics" called More Or Less . Amongst other things this week - including a nice piece on the Tour de France cycle race - they did a good job debunking some of the myths surrounding retirement and life-expectancy . Check out the ...  Read More
Jul. 17, 2012 1:00 pm
The Overconfidence Effect is a well-established cognitive bias in which someone's subjective confidence in their judgments is reliably greater than their objective accuracy . People feel extremely confident in a judgement even when they are dead wrong. And experimental studies, using multiple choice questions or other quizzes, demonstrate that even when 100% certain they are right, people...  Read More
Jul. 12, 2012 3:24 pm
It has yet to be proven that intelligence has any survival value. Arthur C Clarke I have a friend who has spent his entire adult life studying Chironomidae (Ki-ron-o-mid-ee). Chironomidae are a tiny insect. And there are good, sound economic reasons for studying Chironomidae . But this isn’t the reason he studies Chironomidae . The reason he studies Chironomidae is...  Read More
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