Wednesday, October 27, 2004

This Blog is No longer in service....calls are being taken at...

I know this is flip flopping at its worst, and confusing, but I have decided to bite the bullet and close down this blog in favor of resuming the Life Science Lawyer blog covering the same material. I believe the title more clearly relates what the blog is about. Please accept my apologies for any confusion and inconvenience.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Scientists Warn of Bioweapons Threat

From Europe AP via Yahoo! News:

"The threat from biological weapons has outstripped that from chemical and nuclear arms because of the 'riotous' progress of biotechnology, according to a British report.

If those advances of biotechnology remain unchecked, they could be abused by terrorists to target specific ethnic groups and recreate devastating diseases such as the 1918 Spanish flu, according to the author of the report for the British Medical Association, or BMA.

Genetically-engineered anthrax and a synthetic version of the polio virus are among the potential biological weapons that could cause havoc..."

Monday, October 25, 2004

Biometrics In The Mainstream

From industryclick:

"Not so long ago, biometric suppliers tended to provide uncustomized “black boxes” with unchanging components. Now, more biometric suppliers are scrapping the mystery box approach for a two-tier structure, with some companies providing specialized components and others devising complete systems from these targeted elements...

Providers say the biometric industry is following a traditional — and reassuring — path toward maturity, with a few atypical accelerators. Use of biometric systems by government agencies, and in core industries such as banking, healthcare and even travel, has led to more acceptance of the concept of biometrics...

More severe motivators such as domestic terrorism and widespread identity theft have also pushed the issue of identity to the forefront and reemphasized the importance of protective measures to the general public as well as to the corporate world..."

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Open Source Good Match for Pharma?


"Pharmaceuticals represent one new and surprising area where freely shared innovation is catching on. Most industry profits have been made from expensive patented drugs. But now the BioBricks project at MIT is trying to establish standardized tools and processes for research. That way, researchers from everywhere can contribute.

Open innovation also makes sense in industries where patents aren't relevant—for example, finding new uses for existing drugs. Eric Von Hippel, MIT's head of innovation and entrepreneurship, is studying FDA applications since 1998 for these so-called off-label uses of patented drugs to see whether, as he suspects, they come mostly from independent researchers rather than the big drugmakers holding the original patents. If they do, it means open-source innovation is already well underway."

Friday, October 22, 2004

Door Open to U.S. India Collaboration


"A senior US official met Indian foreign ministry officials yesterday to discuss cooperation in advanced technology, nearly a month after Washington lifted curbs on high-tech defence exports to India, a US official said.

The two countries have identified four sectors for potential collaboration: biotechnology, nanotechnology, advanced information technology and defence technology."

Thursday, October 21, 2004

India, China in Biotech Race

From BusinessWorld Online:

"Asian giants India and China are accelerating investment in biotechnology research to fight the odds in agriculture and feed their teeming millions, say scientists and officials.

Scientists at a workshop in one of Indias biggest gene research centres in Patencheru in southern Andhra Pradesh state said China and India accounted for more than half the developing world's expenditure on plant biotechnology.

Margarita Escaler of the United States-based International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications said the Asian giants were putting the emphasis on genetically modified (GM) seeds and technology to ensure their billion-plus populations have enough to eat. "

Advice for partnering with pharma

From Bioentrepreneur:

"As big pharmas fall over each other to proclaim themselves the 'partner of choice' for biotechs, there are still some lessons the younger sibling can learn.

A brief survey of the world's largest pharmaceutical companies reveals their changing attitude towards collaborating with biotech firms. At recent conferences and meetings, it seems that pharmas have been fighting to position themselves as the most biotech-friendly.

This change in pharma's attitude reflects a shift in the dynamic between the old giants and the younger biotech sector. Pharmas are becoming increasingly more reliant on licensing products from biotechs to fill their pipelines, and the terms of deals are becoming more complicated and, in some cases, more favorable to the biotech partner. But as more and more biotech companies emerge to sell their wares, there are some things a startup should note to rise above the din."

Greenpeace Challenges Stem Cell Patent

From The Scientist:

"The German arm of the environmental lobby group Greenpeace is disputing a patent awarded earlier this year to a leading researcher on the grounds that it allows the commercial exploitation of human stem cells.

The organization filed a notice of opposition with the German Patent Office on Wednesday (October 20) against a patent granted in May to Oliver Brustle from the University of Bonn. The patent covers a cell culture method related to a process for deriving neural cells from embryonic stem cells."

Privacy Concerns Raised over FDA’s Approval of Medical Data Chip

From Lawsof.comreferrring to an article from

"The United States Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) approved last week a small computer chip for implantation in a patient’s arm that can store a patient’s medical history. When a scanner passes over the chip, the dormant chip can release the patient-specific information to doctors and hospitals and therefore speed care. Despite the benefits of this device, FDA’s approval of the chip has raised privacy concerns. Privacy rights advocates argue that privacy protection measures should be put in place at the outset in order to avoid harmful consequences to patients. One such measure is to ensure that the devices reveal only vital medical information."

Monday, October 18, 2004

Do drug patents can stifle innovation in poor nations?

From SciDev.Net:

"Most drug discoveries are made by public institutions. Private pharmaceutical companies, however, generally take over the development and commercialisation of the drugs, filing numerous patents in the process. In recent years, cumulative innovation — the development of products based on earlier discoveries — has meant that more and more patents are being registered.

This "privatisation of science" has been accelerated by shortcomings in the patent system, says Carlos María Correa, director of the Centre of Interdisciplinary Studies of Industrial and Economic Law at the University of Buenos Aires. Writing in the Bulletin of the World Health Organisation, Correa says large drug companies have exploited the patent system using strategies he calls 'blanketing', 'fencing', 'surrounding' and 'flooding'. All of these involve the registration of large numbers of patents.

By using patents "offensively" to block potential competitors, drug companies can inhibit innovation, says Correa. He says this is especially worrying in developing countries where competition laws are weak or poorly enforced. Developing nations need to design and implement patent laws that prevent strategic patenting and which promote competition and access to medicines, Correa concludes."

Painful Withdrawal for Merck, Maker of Vioxx

From the (free registration required).

"...On Sept. 30, the company would take the dramatic step of withdrawing the drug, sending the price of its stock into a steep slide that wiped out a quarter of the company's value, a slide from which it has not yet recovered.

An examination of how and why Merck reacted offers an unusual look at how safety issues are handled in clinical trials once a drug is on the market and the complex business of weighing risks against benefits. Even as Merck was deciding to withdraw the drug, there were medical experts arguing that it should not. It also shows that federal regulators often rely on drug companies to tell them that a product is dangerous.

The whole saga, industry experts said, raises unsettling questions about aggressive consumer marketing of drugs before their long-term safety has been proven…"

GM Corn Peacefully Co-exists in Spain

From CORDIS: News service:

"Having strengthened its regulations on the traceability and labelling of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), the Commission has recently lifted the EU's de facto moratorium on the technology and begun authorising new varieties for sale in Europe.

Despite this clear political endorsement of GM food and feed products, however, many consumers and retailers remain opposed to the technology, and while millions of tonnes of genetically modified crops are grown and consumed in other areas of the world, Europe's countryside remains virtually GM free.

That is why the biotechnology industry in Europe is so keen to promote the example being set by maize farmers in Spain, where GM corn varieties have been grown alongside conventional crops for the last seven years. This year, some 60,000 hectares of Bt maize are being cultivated commercially around the country, representing around 12 per cent of Spain's total maize harvest."

Biometrics Aids Law Enforcement Agencies

An article by Thomas Fitzgerald of the New York Times New Service reports:

"Biometrics, the science of using measurable physical characteristics to identify people, has added new weapons to the arsenals of law enforcement agencies, and as some of these new tools are connected to high-speed wireless communications they could become widely available to officers in the field, not just those back at headquarters.

Hand-held devices that can be used to digitally scan fingerprints and match the results against large databases are being tested by several law enforcement agencies nationwide, with officials at some saying that the benefits of biometrics are already clear."

Anti-Biotech Vote in CA has Global Implications

"Californians who think they are voting for safer food by banning biotech may in fact be unintentionally denying proven safer foods to people in developing countries. " So contend, Bruce Chassy, professor of food, microbiology and nutritional sciences and executive associate director of the Biotechnology Center at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign and Drew Kershen, professor of law at the University of Oklahoma, Norman.

They explain, "an anti-biotech trend in a major agricultural state like California can reverberate in nations unfamiliar with the safety record of biotech crops. Consider what has taken place in Africa in recent months. Leaders of some African nations, misled by anti-biotech activists, have refused to accept shipments of U.S. corn sent to feed millions of starving people. If they won't accept free grain to feed their people, they certainly won't allow their countrymen to plant improved seeds that could reduce the risk of birth defects."

Read the rest of the story in this article from