Theranos: A Silicon Valley exception rather than a rule

Not a day goes by without reading about the major deception caused by the Theranos saga; promising innovative blood tests to patients based on unknown technology backed by million-dollar investments. Now, the consequences will be suffered by the rest of the Silicon Valley Biotech industry; most probably they will be the ones bearing the brunt of this situation with additional regulations (in an industry already extremely regulated) and most importantly cautious future investments for new drug/device development.

“The-Company-Which-Must-Not-Be-Named” is the Exception and not the rule. In Silicon Valley and South San Francisco, you will find within a 10-mile radius an amazing scientific ecosystem; The Cove is the new hype, the Biotech Hub, with Astra Zeneca announcing today the opening of its modern open-space R&D center. Over the last few years, we have seen all the major Top 5 Life Sciences companies coming to the Bay area.

Its reason for success, an integrated ecosystem where passionate scientists from biotech start-ups are surrounded by mid-size, large pharma, investors and supportive associations like CLSI; all working towards one goal: the advancement of science.

As we are in Silicon Valley, tech is everywhere; still what works for tech does not automatically apply to life sciences, as “She-Who-Must-Not-be-Named” wanted us to believe. In tech, if your platform works with 80% of its functionality, then it is good to launch, we will figure out the rest afterwards. When dealing with new drugs and devices, you can NOT use that rule. Simply put, a drug or device which is 80% ready is not considered medically safe as it runs a high risk of killing your patients rather than treating them; it has to be 100% ready.

Now, getting to 100% is a difficult road, with so many hurdles, ups and downs, that will take years to overcome, it just does not happen overnight. It will take countless hours of lab research, tests, and many clinical trials before patients can safely use it to improve their condition. Along the road, decisions are made, backed by extensive evidence-based analysis, peer reviewed publications and understanding of the current state of the art. Scientific intelligence, market intelligence and business intelligence are tools dedicated to help progress through each phase of the drug development until it is finally made available to patients for treatment.

Being part of the Bay and Silicon Valley Life Sciences Ecosystem, I can safely say it is clear Theranos is the exception not the rule. For GlobalReach BI, I have met a great number of biotech, mid-size and large pharma organizations over the recent years, each share the following 3 characteristics:

  • Passion for the advancement of science to provide the best treatments to patients
  • Data is at the center of any decision-making process, from early research to development and commercialization; Intelligence is key
  • They are all in it for the long run!

Getting a new drug or a new device to market does not happen overnight, if anyone claims otherwise, let’s triple check it! (Hopefully) Lesson learned.

Yamina Hakem

GlobalReach BI

Our Mission: To support our Life Sciences partners in developing and marketing innovative patient treatments globally through strategic intelligence.

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