There are medicines & then there is Haute Apothicaire
From what’s written on the wall, 2015 could well be the year when good old medicine finally goes designer chic. Even if not for the masses just yet, a privileged few could soon have their meds custom made to match their genes - well, just as soon as the fitting trials are done & the master says aye!
For those who didn't quite get my pun, I am indeed talking about personalized medicine going mainstream in 2015 - From Novartis making the first move to bring protocol to patient through its series of #SIGNATURE trials & JnJ opening up its clinical data vaults to Yale for open research to #Google #Calico aiming to tackleageing through big data & bigger collaborations, it's clear there's this huge trend of big pharma going all guns blazing after the alluring promise of personalized medicine.
This alliance with big data is in some way an existential manoeuvre by big pharma poised precariously on the patent-cliff & thus most initial approvals of designer drugs would be those that have been pulled up from the gorges of failed/failing PII/ PIII trials. Either which way, there is no doubt that the best use of cutting-edge drug design capability is only when it is coupled with the invaluable human genomic & proteomic data decoded in the past decade and using the #bigdata analytics to throw up the statistically best therapeutic match for an individual patient.
If one goes by the regularity with which FDA has been approving companion diagnostics and genetic tests over past few years; the apparent merit they see in the label of an approved drug referencing the genomic biomarker(s) & the pragmatic use of conditional approvals such as the recent one for Translarna by the EMA, it appears the regulators too are in sync with this new reality & have been gearing upto deal with the potential multitudes of personalized therapeutic applications & evolve an approval mechanism that's applicable despite the indication not being orphan enough.
Even as connoisseurs may not quite like it, high fashion attains scale only when it goes mainstream & by analogy the designer drugs too would find their way to the masses eventually, I only hope sooner & safer.
This piece is negative, dark, demotivating and has been scripted in a loathsome moment of existential angst.
Well, you've been warned.
Whenever I read articles that appeal to the conscience of an average citizen on various issues such as terrorism, jingoism, war-on-terror, environment, livelihoods, ethics etc. & exhort them to find their voice, I do feel like picking up the baton & jump in headlong yelling 'yes absolutely'. But alas, my motivation to do so takes a nose-dive when I try and count on my fingers where at all my voice matters, forget macro, within my microcosm representing my country, my province, my city, my company, my neighborhood - the fist remains closed & limp.
Most average Joes' (& Jennis') as me are so overwhelmed by their underwhelming existence that they don't really care or bother about changing the world & merely survive by taking things as they are served.
I really hope this changes for good for me & all else, but as of now my utopia is all make believe & I shudder at the prospect of a damning expose’
Don't worry folks, this isn't yet another Uber bashing or defending article. Since so many are already on that job, I'd rather pass the blame up & rile the investor universe a little instead :-)
First a disclaimer:
Conceptually I admire Uber - I dig the fact that something as mundane as local commute can have such disruptive business potential. As a user I loved the sheer convenience & practicality of an app based cab service that eliminates the fuss of 'booking' a chauffeured cab & thrilled that I'd always know how far my ride is & jus' how many more are creeping around near where I am. I liked it that this company made it possible for quite a few folks in the recession hit USA to make a decent living without looking too bad doing that.
Okay the real poser now
Among all the financial greats such as Fidelity Investments, Wellington Management, Black Rock Inc, Summit Partners, Kleiner Perkins, Google Ventures, Menlo Ventures et al who poured in a whopping $1.2 billion into Uber merely a few months ago, is there one that had raised/ browsed over the possibility that Uber with it's now famous thumbing-its-nose-at-rules approach is potentially waltzing each day into a new & huge regulatory risk?
Is it possible at all that there were absolutely no indicators of this looming risk in July 2014 considering that by December 2014 Uber managed to get into trouble in 15 different countries ranging from USA (California, Nevada, Portland); Canada, UK, France, Germany, Spain, Belgium, Netherlands, Japan, Thailand, South Korea, Philippines, Taiwan and India?
Are the PE, VC organizations in their quest to go after high potential start-ups not sufficiently factoring in any ethical, livelihood & regulatory aspects, that could turn into risks, before unloading truck loads of money? If indeed these aspects were overlooked by them, is it that in their over-enthusiastic support of Uber & it's disruptive enterprise model, the investing universe did a major disservice to them by not letting them get aware of a potential risk they're aggregating (pun intended) with each city they are expanding into?
I really hope Uber cleans-up & pursues its definitive potential so I could hail my fav' cab again soon within my city and elsewhere too - I could be dead-wrong but I feel though that the investor organizations need to do some soul-searching into what exactly their due-diligence is all about or not & if their multibillion valuations are indeed less market regulatory risk.
Post Thought - 11th December
The banning of Uber in India is akin to a parent banishing the teenager from home just because she/ he is caught smoking for the very first-time. The normal approach would be to tell em' 'you are grounded' & proceed to put some sense in the kid which in case of Uber would be asking them to suspend their operations till all aspects are cleared out - I hope Mr. PM will raise above petty politicking and be the stern nurturer of progress people expect him to be.