The life and times of a pharmaceutical drug

One of the chapters in the A level (final year of high school) Salters Chemistry in the UK was drug discovery and clinical trials. The story line book covered this topic in 5 or so pages. What was not mentioned were the actual difficulties and the hurdles that the scientists underwent to discover a new drug. This article published in ‘The New Yorker‘ takes us on a journey in the development of a drug for sleep disorders.

One evening in late May, four senior employees of Merck, the pharmaceutical company, sat in the bar of a Hilton Hotel in Rockville, Maryland, wearing metal lapel pins stamped with the word “team.” They were in a state of exhausted overpreparedness. The next morning, they were to drive a few miles to the headquarters of the Food and Drug Administration and attend a meeting that would decide the future of suvorexant, a new sleeping pill that the company had been developing for a decade. Merck’s team hoped to persuade a committee of seventeen, composed largely of neurologists, that suvorexant was safe and effective. The committee, which would also hear the views of F.D.A. scientists, would deliver a recommendation to the agency. If the government approved suvorexant—read more…


original research article

earlier posts on sleep

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