A idea for fixing the flow of money in pharma. deseses

Last year I attended a few lectures and read news reports about the pharmaceutical business where drug researchers and clinicians spoke about how the allocation of money was disproportionally being spent on life-style drugs and existing (often unique) drugs were being discontinued. This got me thinking about how we could continue to allow pharmaceutical companies to make gobs of money (I don't object to profiting from a great product) and also allow clinicians to depend on a consistent supply of drugs. We need a segmenting and deregulation like what was done with electric utilities in the mid-1990s.

The electric utilities in the mid-1990's were split into three segments: generation, transmission, and local distribution. While the customer does not have a choice of local distribution and transmission they should have a choice of generation. Local generation and transmission continued to be regulated. Generation was deregulated to enable competition. This change was fundamental in the motivation to build wind farms, solar farms, etc.

The pharmaceutical companies need to be split into three segments: research and development (R&D), manufacturing, and distribution. No one company can be in more than one segment. Manufacturing and distribution are typically low-risk, low-margin businesses. They are also critical to continuing care and so will be regulated. The R&D segment is typically a high-risk, high-margin business. This will be unregulated (well, more like less regulated). Within R&D there are two means of funding. The first is the self-funding pharmaceutical industry we have today. The second kind of R&D companies are the startups financed by venture capital.

Given these segments how does the money flow to encourage innovation and discourage abandonment of established, low-margin markets. Firstly, by separating manufacturing and distribution these businesses can continue to exist and be profitable as they do not need to directly bare the costs of R&D. People, world over, continue to get sick with the same diseases!

How is R&D paid for? R&D works within a venture capitol environment. Money comes from outside the pharmaceutical industry and money comes from inside the pharmaceutical industry. The money from within the industry comes from the sale of drugs to manufactures and a royalty on retail sales. This money does not go directly to the R&D businesses. This money goes into a venture capital fund. This is one of the many funds that R&D businesses can pitch a therapy to. I do not know how the internal fund is managed. This might be a kind of utility with public oversight.

This segmentation and organization allows for the continuation of the high-risk and high-reward therapy R&D but takes out of R&D's control the manufacturing and distribution. A win for all interested parties -- and we are all interested parties in health.

Lawrence Lessig: How Money Corrupts Congress and a Plan to Stop It - The Long Now

I have mentioned before Lawrence Lessig's work to remove the inequitable distribution of power through money and the dependency corruption that is pervasive in US politics, esp. at the federal level. His book Republic, Lost is a challenging read. He recently gave a talk at the Long Now Foundation that I highly recommend. Please do listen to it. Well worth an hour of your time.

Lawrence Lessig: How Money Corrupts Congress and a Plan to Stop It - The Long Now

Rants (aka Tweets) on resumes

Rants (aka Tweets) on resumes:

A resume should not be a ouija board. Your mother might not need to understand it but I do. Make your work clear.

Your resume should tell me about the teams you were on; team size; team duration; role(s) you played; tools you used. Everything else is BS.

If your resume can't hook me on the first page the following pages are doing nothing more than annoying me.

I hope to god that I never see a 3 page resume again.

Apple had just one customer

“Apple had just one customer. He passed away last year.” - Seth Godin

The realpath command line utility

I seem to use my command line utility realpath all the time. All it does it take a relative path and return its absolute path. It is very useful. So useful that I can't believe all systems don't have one in /usr/bin/. If you are missing this functionality too then here is source
#include <stdio.h>
#include <limits.h>
#include <stdlib.h>

int main( int argc, char** argv ) {

int i;
char _realpath[ PATH_MAX ];

for ( i = 1; i < argc; i++ ) {
if ( realpath( argv[i], _realpath ) != NULL ) {
printf( "%s\n", _realpath );
else {
exit( 1 );
exit( 0 );
Save this to the file realpath.c and then build with make realpath.

Cloning a Subversion repository

If you are following the explanation in Version Control with Subversion, "Repository Replication", page 177, of how to clone a Subversion repository and want a working example then here it is as a Makefile
# NOTE ROOT must be an absolute path

svnadmin create $(CLONE)
ln -s /usr/bin/true $(CLONE)/hooks/pre-revprop-change
ln -s /usr/bin/true $(CLONE)/hooks/start-commit
svnsync init file://$(CLONE) $(SOURCE)
svn co file://$(CLONE) $(SANDBOX)
svnsync sync file://$(CLONE)
( cd $(SANDBOX) ; svn update ; ls -l )

rm -rf $(CLONE) $(SANDBOX)

Replace SOURCE with a value appropriate to you. (Here I am using a convenient, small, public repository.)