Day 36 – Happy Birthday Stephan

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We celebrated Stephan’s birthday today.  The cake was yummy!  No aspartame here:)

A carry over from my posting on the Nobel Peace Prize — I neglected to mention Dr. Venkatraman Ramakrishnana – he won the Nobel prize for Chemistry.  His contribution – a ‘cellular machine’ that makes proteins.  He and I share the same alma mater – MS University of Baroda.  He earned his BSc. in Physics in 1971.

The hot springs in Yellowstone National Park have bacteria.  Don’t know the relevance of this research but in 2000, Ramakrishnan and his co-workers published the structure of “the small ribosomal subunit of Thermus thermophilus”, a heat-stable bacterium related to one found in the Yellowstone hot springs.

yellowstone hotsprings

Cases are becoming more and more interesting.  Today we discussed Cipla, the Indian pharma company that specializes in manufacturing generic drugs. A minor issue perceived by many a major problem – they make generic drugs which still have time on their 20 year patent protection.  The loophole – Indian government does not find this illegal – as long as the process of reproducing the drug is unique.  So Cipla and other generic manufacturers have been busy reverse engineering drugs.

I have no particular views on Dr. Hameid, the CEO of Cipla and I wont comment on his $1B + personal wealth.  However, I do believe his response to the world’s AIDS epidemic (particularly in India and Africa) was more than the big pharma and the developed nations could come up with…

He offered to provide generic drug cocktail for palliative AIDS treatment for as low as $300/person/year as opposed to multi-national pharmas’ cost of $10K – $12K.

Arguments in class ranged from ‘he is in it for the money’, ‘he is providing alternatives to the developing world’,  ‘ he is  killing innovation from the big pharma companies’….

My view on the innovation bit – Cipla’s sales of AIDS drugs in India and Africa don’t impact the R&D spend on innovation the least bit.  At $10k, India and Africa are markets these companies will never have!

happy bday stephan


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