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Book Review Understanding Medications. What the Label Doesn't Tell You. By A. Burger

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Nonlinear Computer Modeling of
Chemical and Biochemical Data. By
J. E: Rusling and I: F. Kurnosinski.
Academic Press, San Diego, 1996.
268 pp., hardcover $64.95.-ISBN
With the increasing capabilities of modern computers, the digital storing of experimental data has become part of normal everyday practice. It is also increasingly common
for the processing
of the data to be
carried out using
software. However, one
is usually not so
well served when
nonlinear processes
have to be analyzed.
Tasks of this kind
require not only suitable procedures for
modeling complex processes but also,
most importantly, nonlinear regression
Up to now chemists have only been
concerned marginally with these problems. It is therefore a welcome develop
nient that two authors with many years of
experience in the area of chemometry
have set out to explain the principles of
nonlinear regression analysis in this form.
The book is intended as an introduction
for advanced students of chemistry as well
as practicing chemists, with many examples to illustrate the wide variety of applications.
The authors begin by explaining the basic principles of linear regression analysis
in a clear and didactic style, then from this
groundwork they move on to nonlinear
regression and describe the methods of
calculation. However, since only 70 pages
(out of a total of about 270 pp.) have been
allowed for this first part, there is insufficient space to go into much detail. Moreover, the fragments of computer programs that are given in the margin are not
enough to enable the reader with little
computing experience to create programs
for processing his or her own experimental data. Nevertheless, the information
provided is very helpful for understanding
regression calculations, and will certainly
enable the reader to evaluate their usefulness.
The limitation of the theoretical treatment is counterbalanced in the second
part of the book by a wealth of practical
examples from the authors’ own field of
research. The results described and the related discussion show the reader how the
raw data obtained by modern instrumenAngew. Chenr. Ini. Ed. EngI. 1997, 36. No. 4
tal methods can be used to yield reliable
information about the parameters of the
systems being studied. The experimental
methods in the examples range from
NMR and IR spectroscopy through electrochemical analysis to chromatography
and other analytical techniques. With the
exception of the electrochemical investigations, the main emphasis is on applications to biochemical problems. However,
most of these involve principles that one
could easily adapt for use in other areas of
In the discussions of the examples it is
not always made clear that the first step in
analyzing any set of data must be to develop a model for the experiment. This stage
is especially laborious when the experiment is of a kind that can oiily be described by a digital simulation rather than
by an analytical approach. If the quality
of the simulation is not good enough, the
regression calculation cannot yield a reliable result.
The book should encourage readers to
become involved in the complex field of
chemometrics. It will be useful for everyone who needs to interpret experimental
data and wishes to gain a background
knowledge of data-processing methods.
However, the authors have not fully succeeded in their aim of enabling the reader
to develop models and programs independently.
Jiirgen Heinze
Institut fur Physikalische Chemie
der Universitat Freiburg (Germany)
Understanding Medications. What the
Label Doesn’t Tell You. By A . Burger.
American Chemical Society, Washington, DC, 1995. 206 pp., hardcover
!$39.95.-ISBN 0-8412-3210-5
Alfred Burger, one of the founders of
the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, and
its editor for many years, has written this
book for “. . .people who are better educated and more alert to innovations than
the average men or women of any
age.. .”. His aim was “ . . . t o satisfy and
stimulate the curiosity of educated lay
people who, on the whole, lack the biochemical and pharmacological background for the study of medicinal
agents”, and he has certainly achieved
that. In a fluent and readable style, while
also maintaining scientific soundness and
accuracy throughout, Burger leads his
readers through the many different aspects of the discovery and development of
various classes of drugs, some long-established and others only recently introduced, with special emphasis on the basis
C VCH Vrrlugsgesell.sschuft mhH. 0-69451 Weinhelm,i997
of their pharmacological activity. The
book begins with seven introductory
chapters (about 60 pp. altogether), which
summarize the history of medicines from
the earliest times to the present day, and
aspects of modern practice, under the following headings: “Drugs: Historical Beginnings”; “Early Modern Medicines” ;
“Naming Drugs”; “Biomedical Research”; “Modern Drug Discovery and
Development” ; “Molecular Modification
of Prototype Drugs”; “Drug Use and
Abuse”. Using this background of basic
information, the author then discusses
various types of drugs, classified according to their purpose and mode of action.
The 12 chapters (about 120 pp. altogether) are: “Neurohormones and Drugs that
Affect the Central Nervous System”;
“Drugs for the Relief of Pain”; “Local
Anaesthetics, Antispasmodics, and Antihistamines”; “Drugs that Act on the
Blood Pressure and the Heart”; “Intestinal Tract Medications”; “Hormones and
Vitamins”; “Drugs for the Treatment of
Cancer”; “Drugs Affecting the Immune
Response”; “Drugs for Infectious Diseases”; “Antiparasitic Drugs”; “Antiviral
Drugs”; “Antiseptics and Disinfectants”.
The book ends with a short chapter on
“Computer Assistance in Medicinal Research” and a brief look at likely future
developments under the heading “What’s
Burger explains the relevant facts of
medicinal chemistry, its successes, and its
future tasks in a way that is understandable by the educated lay person with an
interest in the subject. Without using an
undue amount of technical language, he
explains how and why the various types of
medications, many of which have long
been familiar, produce their effects, and
describes the physiological processes that
are affected and what happens when the
agents are administered. The information
is skillfully interwoven with interesting
historical facts and anecdotes, so that the
whole makes easy and enjoyable reading.
It is only rarely that the reader is overburdened with specialist language, and in
such cases the glossary of terms in the
form of an appendix is a useful aid. Although the “educated lay person” referred to by the author does not need to
have a considerable background knowledge of biochemistry or pharmacology, a
good secondary school education or its
equivalent is a prerequisite for being able
to follow the discussions without difficulty. Anyone with this minimum background will read the book with enjoyment
and sustained interest. Burger does not attempt to give answers to the question that
is so often asked, with unconcealed mis0570-0K33197i3604-04iS $15.00+ .25/0
41 5
trust, after a visit to the doctor: “should I
really be taking this medication?’ - a
question that is increasingly put to me
(and, no doubt, to other chemists) by
friends or relatives. Instead he presents
background information that is normally
lacking for the reader who has not been
closely involved with science or medicine.
Thus, the book will help to remedy a gap
in understanding that unfortunately exists
for a large part of the educated public (especially in Germany), and which is largely
responsible for the deplorably poor image
of science and technology at present.
Readers of Angewandte Chemie do not, of
course, belong to that tendency. Nevertheless, I recommend them to take a look
at this book by Alfred Burger, and to allow it to circulate among their friends
and relatives, or even to consider it as a
suitable gift. By doing so they would do
their science a good service.
Herbert Waldmann
Institut fur Organische Chemie
der Universitat Karlsruhe
Karlsruhe (Germany)
Ways to Successful Strategies in
Drug Research and Development. By
H. H . Sedlacek, A . M . Sapienza and
I? Eid. VCH Verlagsgesellschaft,
Weinheim, 1996. 250 pp., paperback
DM 128.00.--ISBN
Critical Success Factors in Biomedical
Research and Pharmaceutical Innovation. By S. W: E Omta. Kluwer,
Dordrecht, 1995. 300 pp., hardcover
$124.50.--ISBN 0-7923-3563-5
Anyone in the pharmaceutical industry
who is or has been involved in challenging
discussions of research and development
strategies, for example in the context of a
major reorganization, will immediately
recognize that the book Ways to Successful Strategies in Drug Research and Development has been written by authors who
have been intimately involved in such exercises. However, rather than formulating
recipes for successful strategies from
specific personal perspectives, the authors
offer a comprehensive outline of important factors, parameters, conditions for
pharmaceutical R & D management, their
interplay and impact on critical R & D
processes, and their assessment in the context of defining overall R & D strategies.
This outline is the result of actual experience with, and recent surveys of, a representative collection of pharmaceutical
companies. Those who have already gone
through such experiences will often have a
sense of “deja vu” on reading about the
many typical scenarios which the book
describes in a well structured and easily
readable format, shedding its unforgiving
light on both the right and the wrong decisions. For those newly confronted with
these issues, it will be an eye-opener in
many respects. Thus, the book can and
should be recommended to both middle
and upper, junior and senior management
alike. While it covers the many important
internal and external driving forces and
factors which have to be considered in formulating a successful pharmaceutical R &
D strategy, it also reserves ample space to
address important cultural, sociological,
and psychological issues, to discuss important ethical aspects of current and future health care systems, and to review
moral obligations towards humans, animals, and the environment. In some of
these regards, the book reflects the special
expertise of the authors, and appears to
provide a somewhat overly extensive coverage at the cost of other important aspects, such as the impacts, integration,
and management of information and automation technologies, or the assessment,
implementation, and management of research collaborations, joint ventures, or
strategic alliances with academic or industrial groups. However, one can forgive
this bias in view of the many comprehensive and clear representations of current
wisdom, accompanied by expert commentaries and illustrative examples. In this
way the book provides both practical
toolkits and conceptual frameworks for
analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of
one’s own organization and R & D portfolio, for formulating and evaluating different strategic options, and for assessing
their potential risks and benefits.
There are essentially two ways of reading Omta’s book Critical Success Factors
in Biomedical Research and Pharmaceutical Innovation. One would be the hard sequential way of working systematically
through the study methodology, the study
design, theory construction, hypothesis
generation, data collection, processing
and analysis in order to get to the results,
discussions and conclusions. Alternatively, one can start directly with the latter
towards the end of the book, and leave the
more technical part to a later stage in case
of need or particular .interest. In either
case, one quickly learns that this study is
confined to a survey of Dutch universities
and institutes, thus presenting a relatively
narrow perspective. On the industrial side
it is based on a number of (mostly undisclosed) multinational companies, but appears to ignore important companies
from certain geographical areas. However, the conclusions from this statistical
@> VCH Verlag.~ge.~ell.~~hafl
mbH, 0.69451 Weinheim,1997
survey, based on the usual types of crosschecked questionnaires and personal interviews, remain sufficiently vague and so
full of truisms that any concerns about
potential hidden biases become irrelevant.
In fact, anyone concerned with research
management in one way or another may
be surprised to find so much sophisticated
systems theory machinery being used just
to reconfirm what appears to be commonsense or day-to-day experience. However,
the reader interested in learning about
current state-of-the-art systems analysis
instruments may concentrate more on the
first part of the book, which provides an
overview of many techniques, methodologies, theories, concepts, and terminologies, as exemplified in the context of this
specific study. Perhaps more important
than this overview are the occasional discussions of potential weaknesses and pitfalls of such statistical analyses in general,
and the exceptions to statistically based
generalizations that the author points out
in this particular study. The fact that the
data collection was already completed in
the early nineties may be a cause for concern. Since then the world of biomedical
research, particularly that of the pharmaceutical industry, has changed dramatically. Inevitably, therefore, some conclusions of this study have already been
superseded by the rapid pace of development in this area. Finally, a word of caution may be appropriate regarding the
title of the book. It acts as a bait, but with
little meat on the hook. The critical success factors of modern multidisciplinary
biomedical research are not comprehensively addressed here, nor is the definition
and measurement of pharmaceutical innovation discussed at more than a superficial level. Although certainly less attractive, a more conservative title might have
been better, and would be less likely to
leave readers unsatisfied.
Klaus Muller
F. Hoffmann-LaRoche AG
Pharma Research New Technologies
Base1 (Switzerland)
Combinatorial Peptide and Nonpeptide Libraries. A Handbook. Edited by
G. Jung. VCH Verlagsgesellschaft,
Weinheim, 1996. 545 pp., hardcover
3! 135.00.-ISBN 3-527-29380-9
In a few years, combinatorial chemistry
has developed from a largely academic endeavor into a well-respected and much
discussed technique within the pharmaceutical industry. The main reason for the
interest in combinatorial chemistrv is the
possibility of speeding up the drug devel-
0570-0833/97/3604-0416$ 15.00f ,2510
Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. Engl. 1997. 36, No. 4
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