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Thu Apr 23, 2020, 11:10 AM

'A disaster': Roche CEO's verdict on some COVID-19 antibody tests

'A disaster': Roche CEO's verdict on some COVID-19 antibody tests

Roche is one of the leading companies in the world in the diagnostic field, and manufacturers equipment that meets the CLIA regulations for medical testing, a "go to" company.

I am not involved in any way in diagnostics, but I worked closely with Roche scientists in the early days of the AIDS crisis when people were dying without access to drugs. There was a quality problem with an intermediate that just bordered on the regulatory limits. The decision was not an easy call to make at all; again lives hung in the balance. People would die without that drug, quite literally. I however was very impressed by the professionalism and seriousness with which the Roche Scientific team considered the issue; and was impressed with how hard they worked to resolve the issue in a way that, um, saved human beings.

I mention this because one might hear in connection with this article, all kinds of stuff about big bad corporate people squashing little guys. I personally don't take it that way at all. I suspect the Roche CEO is being honest. Yes, he has skin in the game, but it is inaccurate and in fact, intellectually dishonest, to think that all Pharma executives are "in it for the money."

That's all I'll say on that score.

ZURICH (Reuters) - Some blood tests being marketed to tell people if they have had the new coronavirus are a “disaster”, Roche (ROG.S) Chief Executive Severin Schwan said on Wednesday as he prepares to launch the drugmaker’s own antibody test next month.

Roche’s (ROG.S) diagnostics business has moved out of the shadow of its main medicines unit during the pandemic, as the Swiss pharma giant confirmed its 2020 sales and profit outlook amid rising demand for COVID-19 testing...


...An erroneous false-positive result could lead to the mistaken conclusion that someone has immunity. In developing its test, Schwan said, Roche scrutinised some existing products for reliability before rejecting them.

“It’s a disaster. These tests are not worth anything, or have very little use,” Schwan told reporters on a conference call. “Some of these companies, I tell you, this is ethically very questionable to get out with this stuff.”

Schwan said there were about 100 such tests on offer, including finger-prick assays that offer a quick result. The Basel-based company declined to specify which rival tests it had studied, but said it was not referring to tests from established testing companies...

...Schwan did not release figures for its test’s “specificity”, or how many false-positives can be expected, but promised it would be reliable because Roche had successfully found the antibody produced by the body after exposure to the novel virus.

“This is really what matters,” he said. “Every kind of amateur could produce an antibody test. The two of us could do it overnight in the garage. That’s not the problem.”

“The question is, does it really work? And for that, you have to do testing and validation,” he added.

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Reply 'A disaster': Roche CEO's verdict on some COVID-19 antibody tests (Original post)
NNadir Apr 23 OP
CaliforniaPeggy Apr 23 #1
NRaleighLiberal Apr 23 #2
NJCher Apr 23 #3
NNadir Apr 23 #10
lagomorph777 Apr 23 #17
bullwinkle428 Apr 23 #4
greenjar_01 Apr 23 #5
NNadir Apr 23 #9
crickets Apr 23 #13
NNadir Apr 23 #14
crickets Apr 23 #15
NNadir Apr 24 #20
Pacifist Patriot Apr 23 #11
lagomorph777 Apr 23 #18
captain queeg Apr 23 #6
eppur_se_muova Apr 23 #7
PoliticAverse Apr 23 #8
lagomorph777 Apr 23 #19
SheltieLover Apr 23 #12
musette_sf Apr 23 #16

Response to NNadir (Original post)

Thu Apr 23, 2020, 11:17 AM

1. Greatest Page for this vital post. n/t

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Response to NNadir (Original post)

Thu Apr 23, 2020, 11:20 AM

2. the pressure to make the pace of science match the news cycle paces.

a fool's errand.

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Response to NNadir (Original post)

Thu Apr 23, 2020, 11:22 AM

3. I used to work at the NJ Roche campus

I held a director level job. It was by far and away the most professional work environment I've ever had. I know people often scoff at this kind of thing, but the people I worked with sincerely believed they were helping other people with their work. I had to interview many of their top scientists so we could communicate what we were working on to the "layman," as they called it. I never failed to be impressed with their intelligence and dedication to their work.

What this corporate president is saying is very important, especially with a scam artist in the White House.

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Response to NJCher (Reply #3)

Thu Apr 23, 2020, 12:14 PM

10. Although I live in New Jersey, I worked with the team that was then in Colorado and Palo Alto.

They were outstanding scientists, all of them. I never met anyone in that organization for whom I didn't have the highest respect.

In fact my memories of working with them are among the best memories of my professional career.

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Response to NJCher (Reply #3)

Thu Apr 23, 2020, 04:13 PM

17. Sounds like you were in PR (and I don't use the term disparagingly).

So the big question is, were management, and the PR department, as ethical as the scientists?

If so, I'll read the Roche statement as likely true. And frankly, not surprised there are many others out there looking to hawk crap in dire times.

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Response to NNadir (Original post)

Thu Apr 23, 2020, 11:22 AM

4. I have no doubt that there are tons of sketchy operators out there, trying to throw

some half-assed piece of crap out there before anyone else, in the hopes of making a quick buck and then running for the tall grass once things go pear-shaped. I will certainly put more trust in the established businesses, knowing what kind of liability comes into play in the case of a spectacular failure.

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Response to NNadir (Original post)

Thu Apr 23, 2020, 11:23 AM

5. People have a very skewed idea of how quickly people can develop tests, vaccines, etc.

We've pumped up technology and corporations so much that people simply assume it will be easy once a bunch of folks set their minds and science and technology to it. But it's not easy. It takes time to develop accuracy, and it takes time to develop safe application. People who would let a contractor take two or three months to remodel their kitchen are tapping their foot impatiently on vaccines and antibody tests for a novel virus, or assuming that "they" should just be able to whip something up.

It doesn't work that way.

It will take time.

Some people forget, Jonas Salk became more or less an international celebrity for developing a polio vaccine. It's fucking hard. It's a slow and laborious process.

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Response to greenjar_01 (Reply #5)

Thu Apr 23, 2020, 11:51 AM

9. This is true. It is also true that we have scientific tools now that would have boggled...

...the imagination 25 years ago, but trust me, it is very easy, even with exceptional tools, to screw up. There is still a very active potential for scientific misinterpretation, and the rigors of testing, retesting, of setting specifications are there for a reason.

For anyone who has worked in drug development, that asshole in the White House pushing a dangerous drug he was completely unqualified to even comment, given his poor education and lack of a trace of ethics, a drug hyped and probably brought to his attention by his uneducated slumlord son-in-law based on a lazy google search, the hydroxychloroquinine business, was beyond the pale.

Apparently he killed more people than he killed with his incompetence and lying but driving clinical trials forward without even a trace of scientific knowledge.

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Response to NNadir (Reply #9)

Thu Apr 23, 2020, 03:32 PM

13. I agree with you about trump and hydroxychloroquine, but I blame media

just as much for not pushing harder on questions to him as well as to people actually qualified to comment.

I blame them for not pointing out as you do that he was completely unqualified and his hype was absolutely unethical. News media and journalists could have and should have pushed back harder, and they didn't.

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Response to crickets (Reply #13)

Thu Apr 23, 2020, 03:36 PM

14. Well, he is hanging himself all the same.

This man is such a fool that we can during the campaign play the tapes, him making stupid comments, than denying he made the same stupid comments.

He's a big fat stupid pinata waiting to be whacked.

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Response to NNadir (Reply #14)

Thu Apr 23, 2020, 03:53 PM

15. Absolutely right, and I love the pinata image. nt

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Response to crickets (Reply #15)

Fri Apr 24, 2020, 07:38 AM

20. Well, you see? By not forcing him to prepare - not that he's ever been "prepared" in his...

...useless life, the media is actually serving quite well.

We've now gotten to the level of injecting Lysol. As disturbing as it is to have such a moron in the White House, at least he's giving the country hope in the sense that he's defining so well why he must be gone.

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Response to greenjar_01 (Reply #5)

Thu Apr 23, 2020, 12:19 PM

11. But wait a minute...

Doesn't the geeky, but still oddly sexy, hero(ine) step in around the 50-60 minute mark to develop and mass produce the antidote/cure and the definitely sexy hero(ine) deploys it somewhere around the 80 minute mark? Surely real life works just as quickly!

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Response to greenjar_01 (Reply #5)

Thu Apr 23, 2020, 04:15 PM

18. You mean it's not like Dr. McCoy on Star Trek?

We can't whip up a test and a vaccine in one episode?

I have frankly been amazed at even the partial successes we've seen so far. Way faster than any disease in history.

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Response to NNadir (Original post)

Thu Apr 23, 2020, 11:36 AM

6. America's desire for cheap and fast fixes can really screw things up

Look at how many wanted to jump in the chloroquine wagon. Certainly in our situation everyone would love it if we found a drug already in the market that proved safe and effective. But anything Dr trump pushes is guaranteed to be false.

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Response to NNadir (Original post)

Thu Apr 23, 2020, 11:36 AM

7. " said it was not referring to tests from established testing companies... " That's reassuring.

If you have the choice of one of those established companies, not much problem, apparently.

Life and death issues should be resolved by thoroughly validated procedures, not by whatever crazy shit our crazy shit-wallah is pitching that day.

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Response to NNadir (Original post)

Thu Apr 23, 2020, 11:37 AM

8. One thing you rarly see discussed in the popular press when a test is being mentioned is the test's

rate of false positives and false negatives.

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Response to PoliticAverse (Reply #8)

Thu Apr 23, 2020, 04:16 PM

19. Golly - is that important?

Aren't those just numbers?

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Response to NNadir (Original post)

Thu Apr 23, 2020, 12:33 PM

12. K&R

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Response to NNadir (Original post)

Thu Apr 23, 2020, 04:08 PM

16. K & R

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