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Friday, November 23, 2007

Sebastian Holsclaw writes in a comment on Brad DeLong's blog "Since he shows that university based drug development rarely can get past the target pointing phase, this statement suggests that you (Robert Waldmann) aren't being "fact based" in your conclusion-reaching."

Azoulay, Michigan and Sampat present a figure in the New England Journal of Medicine vol 357 no 20 p 2053 which shows that, in the most recent ten years for which data are available, roughly 20% of biomedical patents were awarded to academic institutions. The discussion is clearly ambivalent as the authors note the view that this demonstrates greed and restricts research as well as the view that this shows that the academy is doing useful applied research and development. Obviously pharmaceutical companies are not affected by such ambivalence, so one would expect the ratio of patents to useful inventions to be higher in industry than the academy.

I note that the source cited by Sebastian Holsclaw is a blog and that the archive category which I read from beginning to end on Holsclaw's recomendation contained no quantitative data on drug development (it did contain quantitative data on clinical trials which, if it were relevant, would not support Holsclaws claim).

It is certainly true that pharmaceutical patents are a subset of biomedical patents, but, since Holsclaw was commenting on a post which discussed the development of a device not a pharmaceutical, the appropriate figue to assess his view that my conclusion-reaching is not "fact based" are the ones which show that Holsclaw's criticism is not fact based.

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