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12/19/11
Correlation does not mean Cause and effect. Pharmaceutics
Filed under: Position Searching, Observ. Trends
Posted by: site admin @ 11:46 am

Striking examples of learning from the failures of
a series of cause and effect correlations in treatments for
human disease and disorders are given in Wired,
January 2012, p. 102 - 109, by Jonah Lehrer.
‘Trials and Errors:  Dead end experiments, useless
drugs, unnecessary surgery.  Why science is failing us.’

Lehrer writes about unintended consequences in:
  - cholesterol lowering torcetrapib (Pfizer)
  - B vitamins reducing homocysteine-linked cardiovascular
problems
Situations from more information from tests not producing
expected outcomes in:
  - non specific back pain caused by swelling or degenerated
discs, revealed by MRI

Lehrer offers these as breakdowns in scientific correlation. 
However, I offer that the ‘business perspective’ of correlation
and the ’science perspective’ of correlation are different. 
Harford states this more clearly in his book, ‘Adapt’.

Harford’s arguments in Adapt
that scientific experts are
continuously humbled by what they predict or believe and
the truth or outcome.  Lehrer, while a very compelling writer,
might be overstating the case made by linking a series of
correlations to the development of a business outcome. 

There are things to learn though in Lehrer’s article about the
industry and approaches to meet customers’ needs.
Lehrer provides examples where a change in R&D
approach is what job seekers should consider in
companies to work for.  The business paradigm has
limited validity in complex scientific correlations such
are used in traditional pharmaceutic development.

One Response to “Correlation does not mean Cause and effect. Pharmaceutics”

  1. site admin Says:


    Scott Gottlieb wrote an editorial about Big Pharma firms
    modifying their approach to drug discovery and product
    development
    1 Drugs designed around individual receptors
    2 Smaller research teams of 20-40, also using collaborations
    with outsiders
    3 Core development groups repeat their successes
    4 Different set of targets now being addressed…

    Serious diseases where there is little competition, rather
    than primary care medical issues like cholesterol. His
    example of Pfizer is only one.   Merck, Vertex are other
    well documented firms, too.

    Note: Pfizer still has disrupted the lives of many former
    employees over the last couple of years.

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