Org Prep Daily

September 9, 2017

Breaking Bad in South Florida – The Aftermath

Filed under: Uncategorized — milkshake @ 7:15 pm

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. If you find any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events, deadly or lively, or actual molecules, carbons or heteroatoms, it is purely coincidental.

The Aftermath

(here is Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10)

The company recently raised millions from an investment fund for the clinical trials. They are initiating the phase 1 trial with a polymer-based i.v. formulation of an old chemotherapy drug. It is the same problematic nanoparticle formulation over which my biologist friend was fired.

It has been difficult for me to find a job since I went against the company. The pattern has been the same: a successful phone interview followed (after few weeks) by a brief communication that the position got already filled. The company also sent the campus police after me last October. I was suddenly called by the university police and asked to immediately report to the campus where they served me a trespass notice and a permanent campus ban – supposedly for previous loitering outside the incubator building. (I did walk by the building once, curious if the labs were still in use – they are on the ground floor, with floor-to-ceiling glass wall so one can easily look into them from the distance).

The purpose of this theatrics was to paint me as an unstable disgruntled loner who is about to bomb the campus. I think it was the idea of our research director – and the university obliged: three police cars and four armed overweight campus police officers puffed up making the campus safe for the drug kingpin in their biotech incubator…

At this time my father became critically ill, I had to go to Prague to look after him so I did not have the energy to fight this baloney trespass. By the time I returned to Florida, I pretty much gave up – I was rather depressed and tired of the affair.

It probably looks petty – what helped me to pick up the fight again were the recent company research publications: The company has been publishing our old research results to impress the potential investors and buyers. I saw enough of my work published without my name on it and I was getting resigned about it. In one case I still caught a publication in the galley proofs because the co-authors alerted me and after my protests the research director reluctantly added my name back to the author list.

But then in summer 2017, the company published a summary overview of its proprietary polymer chemistry – showcasing the remarkable ease of manufacture of new version of our elaborate polymers and the simple-yet-effective drug encapsulation with the self-assembled nanoparticles – and my name was left out again. The scheme was my proposal, and about 30% of the man-hours spent on it was also mine. The research director actually asked me to write the official history of the project for the company in 2015 because I am the main inventor on the patent claiming these polymers. But when I contacted the authors on the paper and asked them to submit an addition/correction to put my name back on the author list, they told me to get lost; some of them in a rude way.

Lucky for us, this is an ACS journal – they have the COPE guidelines for cases just like this one: The journal editors already opened an investigation. I can’t predict the outcome but there is an overwhelming evidence that it was my work and I was left out on purpose – I hope this will give me an opportunity to tell my story in C&EN.

Another issue is the clinical candidate currently in the Phase 1. The company was under the obligation to provide all available safety and efficacy animal data in the IND submission to obtain the approval for the Phase 1 clinical trials. I am not sure they submitted everything: The research director despised the animal data that were showing a poor stability of the drug-loaded nanoparticles in mouse blood – it is the research study for which my biologist friend was fired after presenting his results. I believe that the FDA probably found out about the problems with the IND data submission recently, together with the company background story. They never comment on the ongoing investigations so it is hard to confirm; the only people who will know with certainty are employed by the company, or at CDER.

And then there are the shareholders who saw the value of their investment plummet over the years – who got diluted by the acquisition of a virtual biotech company (because of a poorly-done due diligence) and recently they were diluted yet again by the investment fund. If the company is acquired or goes public, the early investors who are getting hurt will probably question why the management involved itself in cooking MDMA and other drugs in 2013-14. The continuing presence of our research director will predictably turn into a magnet for the shareholder lawsuits. When it happens I will be there to help.



  1. What a story. Good luck with all of this!

    Comment by Joe Q. — September 11, 2017 @ 10:36 am

  2. I am very grateful for this story, and a long awaited revival of orgprepdaily. I hope the milkshake in this story gets the closure he deserves.

    Comment by CRISPR — September 12, 2017 @ 2:34 pm

    • It is a work of fiction. I am hoping to sell the movie rights – doing chemistry does not pay nowadays unless you move to management and then use your company to cook drugs

      Comment by milkshake — September 12, 2017 @ 4:49 pm

  3. Mate – this is one heck of a story. I agree with CRISPR – I hope Fictional Milkshake can continue to do well in life. Someone like him would really have the support of the fictional chemistry community around him.

    I also love the revival of orgprepdaily – will it keep on?

    Comment by SSG — September 14, 2017 @ 1:02 pm

  4. dear ‘milkshake’
    Incredible story, I’m just glad that ‘cooking’ didn’t end up like in Buffalo Soldiers.
    That outcome of the journal investigation will surely end up in RW?

    Cheers and good luck with all your future endeavours

    Comment by oliver — September 17, 2017 @ 8:56 am

  5. Milkshake, your blog used to be my favourite reading. It still is. Long may it continue.

    Comment by Patrick Sweetman — September 18, 2017 @ 12:38 am

  6. what a story! I’m glad i had the whim to check your blog randomly after years. Hope you’re doing well these days

    Comment by grad school dropout — December 20, 2017 @ 10:26 pm

  7. Thanks for sharing this fascinating fictional story. It’s a bit saddening though, to think that similar things might happen in real life. Take the opportunity to wish you a successful new year.

    Comment by look@s — January 1, 2018 @ 4:54 pm

  8. I came back to check in, out of curiosity, years after leaving the blogosphere and chemistry–this is a hell of a fictional story to run across. I hope the fictional protagonist gets some legal closure.

    Comment by Ψ*Ψ — February 3, 2018 @ 2:36 am

    • Who knows how things turn out for our flawed protagonist – I left the ending open quite on purpose, to make it look more realistic. Things are rarely wrapped up neatly in the real life. But now that you asked, maybe I should start working on the second season

      Comment by milkshake — March 11, 2018 @ 6:07 am

      • Your blog has afforded this non-chemist considerable entertainment over the years, even before this very interesting work of fiction. So, even if there isn’t enough fictional material for a whole season, I hope we do hear from our mythical hero every now and again.

        Comment by kbschendel — March 12, 2018 @ 4:49 pm

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