This is not going to make a lot of you happy. I know, because it doesn’t make me happy, either. But, I understand the concept- even if I don’t like the corollary.
BankUnited, as I warned, is back in the news. It seems that the CEO of the “equity fund” that bought the bank (for virtually no money, as you should recall or can read here), John Kanas, is ready to cash in- for a price. BankUnited has retained Goldman Sachs to entice/entertain various offers. Two offers were already made (rumor says) and were undergoing evaluation: one from BBT (Branch Banking and Trust) and the other from Toronto-Dominion Bank (the entity who acquired Commerce Bank). (PNC Bank elected NOT to participate in this auction effort.)
Do you remember the George Carlin routines about cars and driving? One of my favorites…
George to his passenger: “Do you want to see how my brother drives?” (this after a series of escapades with radio tuning knobs- the ones our car radios no longer have…)
I ran across this information the other day. It kind of shocked me- I guess I was not paying attention in my microbiology class. Actually, not- I checked my texts and found no mention in the index. You see, in 1954, Francois Jacob (Institut Pasteur, Paris) described a “pyocin”, a chemical exuded by a strain of microbes (Pseudomonas pyocyanea, now called Pseudomonas aeruginosa) that killed another species of P. aeruginosa. When examined under the electron microscope, these pyocins were found to resemble a rocket- the ones they show in cartoons- one thick tube with several fibers protruding out of its end. It turns out the thick tube also contains a thinner one, that gets expelled by the outer tube (via contraction) to inject itself into the cell wall of the target cell. Killing it.
We all know that our immune response is what keeps our bodies safe. This process (actually, in humans, it’s processes) is when our body distinguishes from ‘self’ to ‘other’, attacking the ‘other’ to preclude their invasion of the whole body. The system gains complexity as it adapts to recognize various pathogens (invaders) more efficiently. This is called acquired immunity (immunological memory); it is one of the reasons we get vaccinated- our body learns to respond to this pathogen and similar types- which can take from 2 days to several weeks to fully develop. This secondary response is critical for our homeostasis, our ability to remain ‘self’ and not be overtaken by ‘others’.
Pharmaceutical research has changed. There’s the soaring price of drug development, the dearth of blockbuster drugs, and the precipitous drop in patents. That does not include the megamergers that have occurred over the past decade. Only 11 of the 42 large firms that were members of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturer’s Association (PhRMA) 13 years ago survive today. The pharmaceutical firms have lost favor on Wall Street- with their market capitalization decimated. That’s true even though the sales of the top 10 drugs have doubled in the past decade and the number of biologics in the top 10 has risen (and will dominate the top 10 soon enough). The number of blockbuster drugs launched has not really changed- but their value has dropped.
We have a real problem. Our antibiotics are becoming less effective against microbes. The reason is simple- the bacteria (to paraphrase from the King and I) have become accustomed to your face- they have begun mutating to make themselves invulnerable to the actions of the antibiotics. The source of this problem is also simple- it’s us.