BioClichés Run Amuck: Avoid These at #BIO2011!

June 22, 2011 – 7:39 pm | By Lynn Yoffee | No comments yet

With #BIO2011 just four days away, attendees and speakers alike are cramming stacks of business cards in brief cases and debating whether or not to wear the good looking shoes or the comfortable ones. The BioWorld team will gather en masse to bring you full coverage of the industry’s biggest event. In advance we provide a little tongue-in-cheek advice for speakers and moderators honing talking points and PowerPoint slides. Please consider editing your comments to avoid these groan-inducing BioClichés:

Achilles heel: When used in reference to a drug that’s intended to zap the cancer cell at its one unprotected weak point . . . which probably doesn’t exist or will mutate as soon as it’s hit anyway.

Bandwidth: Is that how fast a computer uploads/downloads? Please, leave this one to the IT folks.

Blueprint for life: Ug, not another DNA reference. We’re waiting with bated breath to see the double helix art on your PowerPoint slide, too.

Breakthrough: Especially when prefaced with “revolutionary.” Although many things described as “revolutionary” in science are revolutionary in the same sense that the Russian revolution was: followed by often ideologically driven bitter disputes about Truth, and quickly bogged down in the messier realities of practical life. But really, is that how you want your innovation to be thought of?

Cash conservation plan: A survival plan, as in “Our drug failed, the investors won’t pony up any more, and we need to buy time to find someone to buy us.”

Clinically proven: Someone, somewhere did some sort of trial on this and established something or other, so it’s all scientific and above board.

Core competency: OK, you’ve finally found something you’re good at. For Pete’s sake, don’t “leverage” it.

Cosmeceutical: A failed drug that you can add to skin cream.

Critical mass: Does not involve dissension at the Vatican.

Drill down into the data, deal terms, etc.: Please explain, I don’t understand.

Emerging therapeutic paradigm: Our CEO, who’s a business major and generally likes to steer clear of the science, loves saying this at corporate presentations.

Genuinely first in class: A very rare type of drug candidate that is a novel compound, but not a me-too drug.

Granularity: Analysts on conference calls always ask, “Can we get some granularity” on data, deal terms, etc. Why can’t they just say details? Makes us think of grainy foods like quinoa and grits.

High placebo response: Those darn placebos are just too good these days and may be responsible for us not hitting the endpoint.

Holy grail of (pick your disease): Unless it’s a cure for all that ails humankind, please don’t go there unless you’re talking about Monty Python.

Industry leading: C’mon, if everyone’s a leader, why is there competition?

Industry-leading pipeline: Everyone’s got one, so why shouldn’t we?

Looking for color: Analyst speak.

Low-hanging fruit: I think you just stepped in it.

Low-to-mid single digit royalty: Can’t you just say three?

Magic bullet: We don’t really understand the mechanism of action (i.e. magic), but it’s sure to work on a disease, magically. (See silver bullet.)

Me-too drugs: An impolite way of referring to novel compounds, apart from those very rare novel compounds that are genuinely first in class.

Missing link: If you can link it to other things then it makes it sound more important.

Missing part of the puzzle: A code for, “this story makes it sound important, but really it is a tiny, tiny, piece of information when you look at the whole picture.”

Newly emerging threat: Be afraid, be very afraid ‑ and give us a generous dollop of research funding so we can deal with this.

Novel compounds: A euphemism for me-too drugs, apart from those very rare novel compounds that are genuinely first in class.

Novel, innovative, first-in-class, next generation: Superfluous verbiage. Is anyone really going to say “there’s nothing innovative about our drug but we’ve spent so much darned money on the thing at this point that we just have to keep pushing it forward.”

Nutraceutical: A failed drug that you can add to baby formula or dairy products.

Paradigm shift: Abused and overused phrase for almost 50 years. Code for, “let’s make it sound like an even more important story than it is.”

Partner of choice: We are so desperate for a deal that we’ll jump through any combination of hoops.

Pioneer: Are we still conquering the Wild West?

Positive trend toward efficacy: We didn’t hit the endpoint, but the trial wasn’t a complete bust ‑ at least not for the purposes of this press release.

Potentially synergistic: Maybe a combination of these two drugs will be more than the sum of its parts; then again, maybe it won’t.

Revolutionize the standard of care: Really? Your fifth EGFR-inhibitor to market is going to revolutionize the standard of care?

Runway: Often used to describe how much money’s in the bank and how long it will last.

Shedding light on: One may feel warm and fuzzy, but you’re just revealing some new information.

Shots on goal: Are we curing diseases or playing games? Companies that have more than one pipeline program always talk about how they have “multiple shots on goal.”

Silver bullet: Unless it’s meant to defend against werewolves, please avoid. (See magic bullet.)

Skin in the game: Creates a gruesome mental image; it means giving management the opportunity to lose big time if the investors lose.

Unmet medical needs: This seems to contradict the investor risk aversion that requires all innovation to have a clear precedence for success.

Validated target: A target addressed by drugs already approved, preferably with more than $1 billion in annual sales.

Validates the technology: Only revenues really validate the technology.

Value proposition: A BioWorld reader commented, “sounds like looking for a cheap prostitute.”


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