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Dilbert learns about the FDA

June 22, 2011

Just learned that the creator of Dilbert comic strips (Scott Adams) started as a Telecommunications Engineer, and has held various positions in corporate america as a management trainee, computer programmer, budget analyst,commercial lender, product manager and supervisor.

His cartoons reflect a depth and breadth that makes him effective in satyrical humuour.

I became suddenly interested in him because, in one of the presentations of the Credit Analyst from another department, a dilbert comic strip on Credit Analysis caught my attention.

Analysing a project that does not exist

The message he is trying to put across in that particular strip is that Credit Analysts usually spend analysing data over a period of months for a proposed project that may or may not be approved by the Governance Board.

In my world, this happens a lot. I am not a Credit Analyst, but I do a lot of analysis in my course of work which helps in the go or no-go decision making for proposed projects/products or processes. Sometimes, I do receive a lot of pressure from the Project Sponsors or stakeholders or from peer project managers to say YES to the impossible, to say YES, to a proposed solution wherein the cost outweighs the benefits or that the advantages outweighst the risks involved.

This is the reason why it is not hard for me to believe that drug researchers also find themselves in a similar situation– that after months/years of research and after spending millions of dollars in clinical studies– they find that the drug’s cost or the side-effects outweighs the benefits one will get from it. That in order to keep their pay checque, they would probably succumb to the pressure and just say YES, even if they really mean to say NO. (meaning do not continue to manufacture this drug for consumer/patient’s consumption). Imagine spending the last 3 years of your life for a prospective cure, only to find out later on that it would not be properly metabolized by humans, that it works for rats but not on humans. That your prospective cure is not making it to market or the light of day. I wonder if drug companies have Risk analysts like investment banks do– that considers reputational risk, market risk, credit risk and operational risk not only for their companies but also for their customers as well. I wonder if they also receive ethical training and if they are governed by the Sarbanes Oxley Act. If they have a Legal & Compliance department as well.

I also have worked for one of the biggest software company, wherein products are released to the market based on a software development schedule, whether or not it passes stringent quality tests. Sometimes the software is released to a niche market first– to get a wider sample of users (who would already pay for the full retail price)— and then the patches or “updates” that is required to “PATCH” the technical glitches would be sent to the end-users in batches causing a lot of incoveniences and does not really gives you a better quality of life, but just makes it even more difficult to communicate.

This is also the other reason why it is easy for me to believe that as patients we are also the guinea pigs for these drug companies and we are paying them for testing their products on us.

It is also not hard for me to believe that some doctors will not accept patient’s opinions or may get offended when younger doctors or even their own patients challenge their authority as medical practitioners. I do not blame them, they have studied for years and have been in the medical industry for a good number of years too. Scott Adams captured a similar story but for the software industry.


Back to Dilbert. well, because of that particular comic strip. I researched the background of the Dilbert creator- Scott Adams. I am pleasantly surprised that we have a few similarities. A few of the positions I held over the past 12 years is telecommunications engineer, project manager, program manager, training manager and business analyst. He took joblessness as an opportunity to explore his creative side — cartoons and satyrical corporate humuor. I cannot draw though, and nor can I make funny anectodes about corporate issues. So, what I am trying to say here is, it does not take a medical degree or experience in a hospital to realize that doctors, drug researchers and the FDA are not gods, that they are ordinary human beings prone to error and not immune to the politics in every type of organisation and despite our best of intentions– we have the tendency to say YES, even if we mean to say NO. That we can be intimidated by authority, even if we know in our hearts that we could have stood for what is right or discard what is really wrong. That all of us have that healthy fear of losing our jobs, that even if it mean inconvenience to our customers or death to a patient, we make white lies and compromise our ideals or probably our flight or fight response overtakes our rational minds.

All it takes is 1 moron to turn a great idea into a bad idea

It is also not hard to believe that researchers or biochemists could have found the “cure” but because they do not have good relationship with their peers, and superiors that their findings are either swept under the rag, cancelled or not given the necessary funding to continue clinical studies until it makes it to market. Either that or a conflicting party will pull their studies apart proving it is wrong.

Really, you do not need a medical degree or 30 years of clinical experience or be employed in a research facility to figure that out. The human anatomy and psychology has never changed since the time of creation.

Now who is the moron in our story? View this movie

Quoting Dr. Mercola’s comments
It’s an absolute jaw-dropper…

For anyone who has ever been affected by cancer, either directly or indirectly, the facts presented in this film will hit you like a rude slap in the face.

You will learn that not only did the US Federal government spend 14 years actively suppressing a cancer treatment that had a FAR greater success rate than any other treatment available, they also spent well over $60 million of US taxpayer dollars trying to put the inventor of the treatment in jail in order to steal his patents and either suppress or cash in on his discovery.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. June 23, 2011 4:08 am

    So true… sadly it seems, follow the money.
    Thank you for the laugh šŸ™‚ I love Dilbert!
    Hope you are well… all the best to you and your family.

  2. August 1, 2012 8:46 am

    hi liz, just saw this comment.. how are you?

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