A biomedical startup down the road from me was developing something called HDL Selective Delipidation. It's a process that passed the FDA safety tests, and effectively reduced coronary plaque in a small test group. It might never get to wider trials because their sources of funding dried up, thanks to our crippled economy, and they had to close their doors. This is after putting about $60 million into the business.

Since you are probably not a doctor, allow me to explain the importance of "reduced coronary plaque." Doctors prescribe drugs called statins for people who are predisposed to cardiovascular events. Statins slow the progression of atherosclerosis (plaque in the coronary arteries). Slowing it down is good enough to substantially reduce the rate of cardiovascular problems in this country. But even with statins, people who are predisposed to cardiovascular problems are still more likely than not to have a problem down the road.

Unlike statins, HDL Selective Delipidation actually reversed the progression of coronary plaque, in just seven weeks, at least with the small test group. If the company had funding for larger trials, the process might someday be combined with statins to be a powerful one-two punch.

How many lives could it save?  Coronary heart disease is the leading cause of death in America, killing about 450,000 people per year. There are about 1.2 million new and recurrent cases of coronary attacks per year, of which 38% will die.  If this new treatment could reduce the mortality rate by 10% (which I'm told is conservative), it would save 46,000 people a year.  It could also significantly reduce healthcare expenditures and improve patients' quality of life.

As it stands now, perhaps 46,000 people will die per year because the company just entered bankruptcy. The key employees are still available and eager to make this process work. If you know anyone who invests in this sort of company (at a ridiculously low cost), such as venture capitalists or biotech companies, pass them a link to this post and see if you can save some lives, including maybe your own.

The company's website is still live at http://www.lipidsciences.com/ .  For more information about the product or investing in it, contact Tim Perlman at tperlman@lipidsciences.com.

[Disclaimer: I have no financial interest in the company. When I asked my friend Tim how many people might die because the company couldn't get funding, I felt it was important to blog about it.]

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Nov 6, 2008
It's not all the economy. Though it's unpopular to say now, but excessive regualtion also is a deterent to moving these drugs to market.

From the WSJ:

Acomplia research stopped in light of approval restrictions

Sanofi-Aventis has decided to halt all research on the weight loss drug Acomplia -- citing not insurmountable safety concerns but "recent demands by certain national health authorities." Pfizer also ended research on a similar compound because of "changing regulatory perspectives on the risk/benefit profile of the CB1 class [referring to the type of receptors also targeted by Acomplia] and the new regulatory requirements for approval."

Analyst Steve Brozak to the Wall Street Journal: "Pfizer is technically correct in stating that even if the drug is safe, it's not certain that it could make it onto the U.S. market because the FDA 'has almost become paralyzed with caution in its approval process.'"

The Wall Street Journal is also reporting that the next administration will likely be even tougher on the FDA.
Nov 6, 2008
In last months, I get a feeling that Scott underwent a brain surgery.
But maybe, he is only influenced by propaganda of all leftists, that took new breath and, again, started to lie about all the wrongdoings of capitalism and free market. Contrary is true - the invisible hand of market is only effective way how all can became rich, and today's "crisis" is just result of crippling this hand (by social engineers like Scott).

In details it was explained by Phantom II bellow...
How, can Scott now, that this invention is the best? How would be ever any red tape able to decide what is the best cure for a heart disease? No, it doesn't work...

*With crisis, I mean - what the hell is crisis? GNP will grow only by 1% instead of 3? What a tragedy...
+2 Rank Up Rank Down
Nov 6, 2008
I know the VP of Finance for a major international pharma company located north of chicago. I'm considering passing this info along.

I'll let you know if I do and I hear back from him. Interesting post.
Nov 6, 2008
A lot of the blame goes to the FDA. People should have the option of trying the drug after being informed of its experimental nature. If they accept the risks, they should be free to try it. After all, it is their own life, right?

The FDA approval process actually kills a lot more people than it saves, since few calculate the numbers that die while waiting for a drug to get approved. The raised cost of getting a drug to market also means the company must charge more for it, and in some cases, can't afford to keep working on drugs that may not be profitable enough to pursue. It is sad, but that is government.
Nov 6, 2008
Scott's post presents a great learning opportunity. Let me expound:

Let's say that you had an idea for a treatment that would prevent 100% of all heart problems and eliminate heart disease as a cause of death. Now let's say that that treatment cost $500M and ten years to develop and could be sold for $10 each, with 400,000 potential customers. Would you invest in that company? Probably not.

But wait, you say. You could eliminate 100% of heart disease! It HAS to be done!! So, let's get the government to underwrite the costs. That's the typical response of those who look for government to spend other people's money on what they want it spent on.

Why wouldn't that be a good idea? For one thing, the government putting money into something like this would destroy competition. It also would eliminate anyone else doing further research on heart disease, thereby ensuring that there would never be another startup in heart disease-related treatment. That means if some other company came up with a way to do the same thing with a $20M investment in one year that could be sold for $100 each, that solution would never come to market. How many people would die in that nine years between our later solution and our earlier one? This is the law of unintended consequences.

When someone proposes that the government overrule the free market, they are ensuring two things: bureaucracy and fiscal inefficiency. Far better for the government to remove the barriers to development. There are a lot of ways to do this - in Scott's example, if the treatment has merit, then the FDA needs to have a fast-track procedure that would reduce the development costs. See the difference? Or give the company relief from tort lawsuits, which requires them to keep a huge amount of money in reserve against the inevitable lawsuits.

Government is simply not equipped to manipulate the free market. Most of the legislators in the federal government are lawyers, not businessmen. Would you like them consulting on your medical procedures when they're not trained doctors? Then why have them weigh in on economic and business policy? President Bush at least has a Harvard MBA - I'd listen to him before I'd listen to the lawyers in Congress.

Anyway, at least think about it the next time you scream for government to 'fix' something. They rarely do, and they usually make things worse, at least when it comes to business.

In Scott's business example, investors put $60M into the company. What Scott doesn't know, and what you'd need to know to move forward, are things like how much money will be returned to the investors? What other companies are working on similar, less-expensive procedures that will have even better results? Are those companies able to do this for a lesser investment and deliver a better treatment at a lower cost?

One must assume that the investors don't want to walk away from a $60M investment. At the same time, as with a poker game, you don't throw good money after bad. Lessons to learn if you're going to weigh in on things having to do with business and economics. You're welcome.
Nov 6, 2008
uh-huh, alert the press- contracting resources cause hard choices to be made, news at 11.
Nov 6, 2008
What is this Recession nonsense???

I thought Obama won and the recession ended and we now have the best economy in the history of the world. Plus gas prices are already down 4 cents a gallon since Obama won. Now I'm just waiting for him to pay my mortgage and then the all will be perfect in the New World.

Plus with Obama health care, who needs any new medical drugs? He will personally guarantee that I will have the best health care ever and that I will live to be 100. And then he will help me commit assisted suicide.
+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Nov 6, 2008
Wow, very interesting comments here today. Maybe its just me, but I applaud the effort brought forward by Scott. It is indeed thought provoking to consider in terms of human life what our (USA) declining economy might or will bring. The thought brought forward by Haliverpool discussing all of the ignored cases of malaria and no one seems to care to help. I'll wager a guess that there are several other issues equal in seriousness that need funding to serve the greater good that will never see the light of day because of our foolishness and consumption needs.

Maybe, just maybe, this is exactly what we needed to happen in order to properly take action. Then again, maybe this was pre-destined. Free will is a !$%*!$
Nov 6, 2008
Has the company considered a grass roots internet campaign to raise money $20 or $50 at a time? It's a stretch, but worth a try.
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Nov 6, 2008
@ Calvinjames:
"[...] because the arts are often the first things cut when budgets are tightened? Are we missing out on the next great rock anthem or the next Tom Hanks or the next Mona Lisa?"

I'll pass the easy one about Tom Hanks –that's preterition, fellas! But let me disagree with the rest of your statement. I think it's a big mistake to relate art to corporate/state sponsorship. And i don't take this from a romantic hobo-turned-bluesman point of view. On the contrary, it's almost a fact that financial or political limitations turn out to sublimate people's expressions into the best art. Our own Golden Century of the spanish arts is a true testimony to this. While Spain was in their first serious bankrupcy, both morally and economically, after wasting the american gold on endless wars against our neighbours, some writers and painters were doing their best.

You'll say that they had an education. Well, of course. But most of them weren't high on the dollar: Cervantes lived almost like a beggar for a long time, for example. And I don't think you are aiming at the education funds, but to the "sponsorship of the practice of the arts".

First: exposure to education and arts doesn't guarantee a bigger percentage of worthy artists. Just look at all the kids with all the world printed works available for free online. They are ogling pretty chicks iin 20 sec. clips in youtube. Their fault.
Second: the corporate/statal sponsorhip makes for worst art, in the practice. Don't have the space to elaborate on this, but if you befriend any band, wannabe writer or arts student and check their attitude you'll become convinced.

The point is: expect better art and better rock anthems! If you want rock, the crisis will give it to you.

Excuse my non native english.
Nov 6, 2008
Am I being too cynical if I say that the same number of people will die each year, they'll just do it older?

Yeah, probably.
Nov 6, 2008

You're bright. You've studied, and you're well read. But you've (maybe intentionally) chosen a few words wrongly in this post. And for that, I comment. :)

First, the recession cannot 'kill' any more than a pen can talk (I'm not talking about the $6 Goofy pens you can buy at Walt Disney World. hhhh-yuk). Some of your readers might think I'm arguing semantics, but it's a way of thinking: shuttering the doors of this company doesn't kill anyone, rather it's a missed opportunity to save them. And this is, as you point out, is very unfortunate and disheartening. From that last sentence, you might even begin to see where I stand politically.

Second, when you say "If this new treatment could reduce the mortality rate by 10% (which I'm told is conservative), it would save 46,000 people a year," you have to assume that all of the 450,000 people got the treatment (also, 46,000 idn't 10% of 450,000). We're guesstimating that nearly a half million people died of this disease as their primary cause of death and that each and every one of them would have gone through this treatment had the funding been there for us and our children. This simply is not reality. I wish it were.

I get the point of your post. It's sad. But don't use the voodoo you wrote about two weeks ago (remember the post about hypnotism, folks?).

+5 Rank Up Rank Down
Nov 6, 2008
I'll just throw this out there for giggles, but there is some evidence that the heart disease problem is caused largely by a lack of vitamin C in the modern diet - a precursor to scurvy, if you will...


Vitamin C (strawberries, citrus, red bell peppers) don't have Big Pharma's clout to provide the evidence that a healthy diet may solidly trump whatever lipids your body naturally produces.

If the economy causes people to cut back on processed foods, eat more meatless meals and increase consumption of homegrown fruits and vegetables, how many people will this recession SAVE?
Nov 6, 2008
User Name: emmasweeny Nov 6, 2008
I blame the billionaires trying to become trillionaires. Then I clear my conscience by assuming that everyone with coronary heart disease are smokers with a profound fondness for fast food. I'm investing in photovoltaic startups because that's the only thing (aside from nuclear) that will create energy independence in my lifetime, which could potentially kill millions of arabs with a middle east recession that I caused. Excuse me while I purr.

Actually, that's not at all true. If we went to all coal we could be energy independent. Also, I wouldn't rule out fusion reactors, which could potentially happen within the next 50 years. So what you probably meant to say is that solar is the only form of energy the messiah Obama, Nancy 'Treehugger' Pelosi, Harry 'I don't know up from down' Reid would 'allow' the country to become energy independent with. Cap and trade is a stupid idea which will only cause inflation and a larger burden on the lower classes. This problem, not ironically, will be caused by the government and then extra tax credits given to people will be the solution. But tax credits are a problem as well as they don't correspond to earnings as much as they do lack of earnings which counter man's natural state. Each time government gets involved it causes yet another problem that it tries to fix.
Nov 6, 2008
The real question is what other companies similar to the one you were talking about have had to close their doors or put their projects on hold. Then you have to ask how other areas of life have taken a hit by the economy. How many kids won’t have the opportunity to learn to play a musical instrument or act in a play or sing in a choir or even paint a picture because the arts are often the first things cut when budgets are tightened? Are we missing out on the next great rock anthem or the next Tom Hanks or the next Mona Lisa? How many technological leaps forward are being delayed or lost forever because companies are spending less of R&D and more on trying to keep afloat? How many great movies or books are not being made because of budget cuts at major studios and book publishers? How many future Hall of Fame pitchers or quarterbacks or tennis players will never be developed because funding for sports is cut? How many pot holes are going unfilled or bridges going unfixed or snow going unplowed because the Departments of Streets and Sanitation around the county have less resources?

After that, you have to think about the obverse. When things are going well, how much money is wasted on drugs that will never work. How many hours are wasted on tone deaf kids who will never be a singer or violin player? How many more Matt Daman wanna-be’s are out there who have absolutely no chance of making it? How many companies are brought into life just to waste everyone’s time with redundant products to offer into markets that are already saturated? How many kids are unnecessarily breaking their bones playing sports they will never be good at? How much are we paying a crew of 15 workers who just stand there watching one guy fill a pot hole?

Perhaps there is a balance, and economies like the one we are in are actually good for the long term. Perhaps living through a time of want makes us more efficient once the money is there again.
Nov 6, 2008
I blame the billionaires trying to become trillionaires. Then I clear my conscience by assuming that everyone with coronary heart disease are smokers with a profound fondness for fast food. I'm investing in photovoltaic startups because that's the only thing (aside from nuclear) that will create energy independence in my lifetime, which could potentially kill millions of arabs with a middle east recession that I caused. Excuse me while I purr.
Nov 6, 2008
Awww Scott, this crap isn't funny, nor particularly thought provoking. C'mon! I know we all want to live forever but jeez, make it thought provoking.
Nov 6, 2008
This is very typical (unfortunately) that when we're cutting out the fat in our lives (economically) sometimes we cut thru muscle and into the bone. We can only hope that the right folks (bigger drug companies perhaps) have access to the same information and the company can follow thru and find out if this drug could truely help many of the folks with cholesteral issues. Luckily I'm not in the group that needs statins (at this time) but folks in my immediate family still need the drugs. What can one person do?
Nov 6, 2008
Seems unlikely as large biotech and pharma companies love making acquisitions to boost their pipelines of drugs and treatments. Right now companies like Merck have billions in cash and nothing really to do with it. If HDL SD had the promise as Scott has made it out to have, it would have been bought up already.

Of course that's just my opinion, I could be wrong.
Nov 6, 2008
Then he voted. (First!)
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