A journey to the darkside: wtf is biotech anyway?

All right. So if it’s not one thing, it’s another. At first I was stressing out about this whole actually becoming a PhD candidate thing (which is now official, which means I’m going to celebrate by getting business cards and piercing my ears), and now I have gotten myself WAY TOO INVOLVED in making this multi-user blog for this local biotech group. I don’t even know what biotech is, really, and quite frankly, I… well, read below.

Way Too Involved


I conned my labmate, who apparently hates biotech, to come to a recent event put on by this group, and when we were talking about the thing afterwards he brought up the point that, really, biotech is not something you should be getting rich off of. At the end of the day it’s healthcare and the fact that it is extremely profitable, which granted may foster competition and therefor progress, encourages behavior that is not necessarily best for patients or for science.

And then I was reading this book on House M.D., yes, the TV show (ahem), which mentioned the gifts, travel, meals, etc. that pharma companies are ALLOWED BY REGULATION to give to doctors. This kind of made me furious. I don’t want my doctor to give me some drug just because it’s the one he has free samples of. Though I’m sure he has, and I’m sure I was grateful, cause it was free. But that’s not the point. The book also mentioned the group PharmFree which is ‘an ongoing campaign begun in 2002 by the American Medical Student Association’ to discourage just that. I wonder if they’ve made any progress.

Now apparently pharma and biotech are two different things. But apparently pharma buys up biotech all the time (wordswordswords, somethingsomething, this is the part where I pretend I know what I’m talking about). So to me… that sounds I can lump them together. So I will. THE DARK SIDE.

That being said, I do still pitch this biotech org to people with, “Academics always write, ‘my research will help find cures for this disease, because… ‘, but they actually have no idea.” So I do think there is value in the cross-talk, which is why I stick around, but I’m still worried about how close I am to falling down the rabbit hole. Maybe the value is actually heavily weighted towards the entrepreneurs, and scientists don’t need to know how far away they are from the practical application of their research? But I’m still on the fence, I don’t think it’s quite so lopsided. And what is this value measured in in this context anyway? Money? Scientific integrity? Human lives?

Anyway, the other reason to keep this up, is that it’s easier to fix a broken system by being involved with it than by just complaining about it from the outside.

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