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Tuesday, June 03, 2014


by Tracey Gratch

As oncology has become the hottest space within pharmaceuticals and biotech, the annual American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) is pretty much now the Super Bowl for companies in this space. Meetings like ASCO [May 30 - June 3, 2014] certainly do lead to companies releasing important data on pipeline candidates, as well as often hosting meetings/presentation to explain their pipelines and development strategies in more details. It's worth remembering, though, that a lot of what is presented is early stage, includes limited number of patients, and often focuses on metrics like response rate that are ultimately less significant than metrics like overall survival. -- Stephen D., Simpson, The Motley Fool, May 16, 2014. Image source: ASCO.

I attend the morning session
hopeful, there might be
a trial, maybe something;
she'll fit the thing they need.

Poker-faced, the lead guy says
the endpoints went unmet in this phase three,
but in some subset, it looks promising.

Back home, things would deteriorate;
she'll go back in this week,

as I'll wander the exhibit hall, endless
and commercialized, in ways nearly obscene.
The start-ups and the biotechs, lure attendees
in with chocolate crepes and fresh coffee.

At 2 PM, another friend will text:
she's made it through,
and on her brain, some pressure's been relieved.

There, staring dazed and vacantly, (after all,
it is day three) through the haze of late-stage entities,
through the fleeting, spit-shined pipeline dreams --

the posters offer palpably: the best
the best can offer here can offer only
two to three, and maybe improve quality;
and none of it comes free.

Tracey Gratch lives in Quincy, MA with her husband and their four children. Her poems have appeared in journals and  publications including Mezzo Cammin, The Literary Bohemian, The Flea, Annals of Internal Medicine, Boston Literary Magazine,  The New Verse News and The Yale Journal for Humanities in Medicine. Her poem, "Strong Woman" is included in the American College of Physicians, On Being A Doctor, Volume 4, published in April, 2014.