Another Day: More Pharmaceutical Layoffs

Posted in BioJobBuzz, Uncategorized

Endo International PLC, a Dublin, Ireland-based global speciality pharmaceutical company that sells generic and branded prescription drugs, today announced that it plans to layoff 375 US sales employees most of whom work in its branded pain sales force. The company manufactures several branded opioid pain medicines including OPANA ER® and Percocet® Ostensibly, the job cuts will yield  will free up $90 to $100 million that the company will used to restructure and refocus its business units.

The ongoing very public national discussion about opioid abuse has caused Endo to re-evaluate its new product development strategy ( the company stock has been hemorrhaging over the past year or so). To that end, the company announced a new focus on the drug Xiaflex, a penis curvature drug that the company acquired in its $2.6 billion buyout of Auxilium.  By focusing on new markets, the company hopes to reduce its financial dependency on its legacy opioid business that has been waning as new legislation restricting patient access to opioids continues to be passed in States that have been devastating by the growing opioid epidemic sweeping the US.

Until next time…

Good luck and Good Job Hunting


BioEducation: Vaccines, Drugs and Risk

Posted in BioEducation

Despite a court ruling last week that dismissed the bogus link between vaccination and autism, I continue to receive comments from so-called “non-vaccinators” about a post that I published last week about New Jersey’s dismal vaccinations rates. Most of the comments are anecdotal and suggest that childhood vaccination was the likely culprit for their children’s autism, brain damage or other ailments. While I feel their pain, the notion that children should not continue to be vaccinated is misguided and has serious negative public health implications.

There is ample public health and scientific information that suggests that childhood vaccination has worked well to reduce the incidence of morbidity and mortality in Western nations. Ironically, if it wasn’t for mandatory childhood vaccinations, the death and lasting physical or neurological damage caused by many preventable diseases like smallpox, measles, mumps, diphtheria and whooping cough would be much higher. Unfortunately, we Americans have been lead to believe —intentionally or not—that there should be no side effects associated with drugs, vaccines and other medicines. The bottom line is that all drugs, vaccines and medicines have side effects; some more serious or noticeable than others! Further, the decision to develop new drugs and vaccines is always based on a risk to benefit ratio. Pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies will only develop products to address unmet medical needs when the benefits of these products clearly outweigh the potential risks. However, in some cases, most notably cancer drugs, the risk to benefit ratio becomes less obvious. There is no question that most cancer drugs have serious and potential life threatening side effects. Nevertheless, the benefit—survival and not death—far outweighs potential downstream risks!

Like it or not, the medical benefits of vaccination far outweigh the risks associated with them. As many of you may know, there is currently a whooping cough epidemic in California. California health officials assert that the epidemic likely started among unvaccinated individuals and then spread to the larger population. The observation that many of the patients with whooping cough were previously vaccinated against the disease in childhood suggests that either their immunity to whooping has declined over the years or that the causative bacterium, Bordetella pertussis has become more virulent. 

The former hypothesis is more likely than the later mainly because Bordetella infections were almost non-existent until increased immigration and the non-vaccination movement began in earnest about 15 years ago! Students of infectious diseases will tell you that virulence of infectious agents tends to increase as they are passed from one infected individual to the next. Consequently, the lack of any significant B pertussis outbreaks (until very recently) suggests that changes in the underlying virulence mechanism of the bacterium are not responsible for the current outbreaks.

Again, as a parent, I understand the pain and suffering of those whose children may have experienced debilitating effects coincident with childhood vaccination regimens. However, as more parents continue to eschew vaccination against childhood disease, the incidence of death and children with serious life long debilitating effects associated with many common childhood diseases is certain to rise. With this in mind, I will continue to write and post articles that support childhood vaccinations. I will gladly stop posting these articles when someone can provide me with scientifically accurate and valid data that suggest that vaccination does more harm than good!

Until next time…

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!!!!!!


A Eureka Moment…Of Sorts

Posted in Career Advice

Most scientists fantasize about that so-called eureka moment when, after years of hard work, academic challenges and mental anguish, it all makes sense. While I have experienced these moments from time to time during my career as a scientist, it has happened less frequently as a lay person. This morning, while reading a Science Times article on Thomas R. Friedan , former New York City health commissioner and current head of the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, GA, I had one of those moments.

After reading the passage:

campaigns to ban trans fats, post calorie counts in chain restaurants, reduce salt in processed food and tax high-calorie sodas. He had a supportive boss in Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and a receptive populace in New York, but if he were to try anything similar at the C.D.C., tough Congressional hearings could be in his future because conservative lawmakers on Capitol Hill often oppose such measures

it finally dawned on me that conservatives, in general, don’t give a damn or care about human health. Or perhaps, the underlying message may be: “don’t tell me how to eat or take care of myself; it’s my life and I know what is best for my health and me.” Unfortunately, since over half of the American population is obese or overweight and the incidences of diabetes and hypertension among younger and older adults has reached unprecedented epidemic proportion it is becoming increasingly evident that most Americans, regardless of their political affiliations, don’t know how to adequately manage their health.  And, to make matters worse, the inability or unwillingness of these individuals to maintain their health increases the cost and may block access of otherwise healthy Americans to adequate healthcare.

As an American, I strongly believe in individuals’ rights and freedom of expression. However, I also believe that summarily opposing unobtrusive measures to improve human health—based almost exclusively on political philosophy or personal financial gain—is morally bankrupt and overtly un-American!

Until next time…

Good Luck and Good Eating!!!!


How Much Do You Really Know About the Flu?

Posted in Career Advice

Yesterday, after giving a talk on social media to a great NYC-based PR firm called Ricochet,I decided to take an uptown trip to visit Professor Vincent Racaniello at Columbia University Medical School to talk about the new applications that we plan to introduce to BioCrowd.

When I arrived at Professor Racaniello’s office, which has an outstanding view of the Hudson River and George Washington Bridge, he was in the middle of taping this week’s This Week in Virology (TWiV) podcast with co-hosts Dick Despommier and Alan Dove. Much to my surprise, Vincent invited me to join the conversation although I am a bacteriologist not a virologist. The podcast was devoted mainly to answering questions that listeners had submitted to the show. One listener alerted us to a post at Newsweek Online entitled “Fight Flu and Falsehoods” while we didn’t agree with the author’s assertion that “that hand washing doesn’t affect the transmissibility of influenza”—it does reduce infections rates of other viruses, bacteria and parasites, so it is a good idea to continue to wash your hands—accompanying the article was an outstanding online quiz that assesses how much you really know about influenza and other viruses. 

I think it would be fun for BioJobBlog readers to take the quiz, report scores and then tabulate the results.

To take the quiz, click here and to report your score click here!  I will tabulate the results and share them in a later post if enough BioJobBlog readers and their friends take!

Until next time

Good Luck and More Luck On the Quiz!!!


Wondering Where the Next Swine Flu Outbreaks May Be? The iPhone Has An App For That!

Posted in Social Media

As an iPhone user, I am constantly amazed at the applications that are developed for it. I recently downloaded a flashlight app that converts my iPhone into a flash light in case of a power outage or finding myself in the dark like I did two summers ago at Moosehead Lake in Maine. Just when I thought iphone apps couldn’t get cooler, I learned about a new app called “Outbreaks By Me.” It was developed by researchers at Children’s Hospital Boston in collaboration with the MIT Media Lab, enables users to track and report outbreaks of infectious diseases, such as H1N1 (swine flu), on the ground in real time. The application can be downloaded from iTunes.

According to a press release “the application builds upon the mission and proven capability of HealthMap, an online resource that collects, filters, maps and disseminates information about emerging infectious diseases, and provides a new, contextualized view of a user’s specific location – pinpointing outbreaks that have been reported in the vicinity of the user and offering the opportunity to search for additional outbreak information by location or disease.” An additional feature of Outbreaks Near Me is the ability to set alerts that will notify users via text or by e-mail when new outbreaks are reported in their proximity, or if users enter a new area of activity. It also offers an option for users to submit an outbreak report which will allow people in cities and countries around the world to interact with the HealthMap team and participate in the public health surveillance process.

What will iPhone app developers think of next— an app for swine flu vaccination?   Now that would be way cool!

Until next time….

Good Luck and Good Swine Flu Hunting!!!!!!!


Swine Flu Revisted

Posted in Career Advice

By now everybody has heard that there is a Swine Flu epidemic that started in Mexico and may morph into a worldwide pandemic.  The media’s coverage has been mind numbing and overwhelming.  For those of you who want the real skinny on the outbreak, I recommend that you read a post on the Virology Blog run by BioCrowd founder and virologist Vincent Racaniello.

Vincent did his PhD work on flu in Peter Palese’s lab, one of the world’s leading influenza experts.  In addition to his blog post, Vincent along with Dick Despommier and Alan Dove created a also created a podcast on swine flu last Friday as the epidemic began to unfold. Check it and other virology podcasts out on This Week in Virology (TWiV).

Until next time….

Good Luck and Good Reading/Listening

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