Monday, October 05, 2009

Duplicity and Siloxanes

Finally got around to seeing the film "Duplicity". I liked it, but I've yet to see a film starring Clive Owen that I didn't like. Many reviews have said that the movie is confusing, but I think that is mainly due to the non-sequential order in which the story is told.

The film is about 2 former government spies (Clive Owen and Julia Roberts) who work for the corporate intelligence units of 2 competing companies. One of the companies has a huge new product coming out; the other is trying to find out what it is and then steal it. The spies are in cohoots with the idea of trying to cash in themselves.


I'm not going to tell you how it all ends, but I am going to talk just a bit about what the secret product is. Even knowing what the product is isn't really going to ruin the movie.

What impressed me most is that they actually got the chemistry right, but you don't initially realize that (the movie isn't called "Duplicity" for no good reason). The product is claimed to grow hair and cure baldness, and in what I initally thought was a mistake, the kind that Hollywood routinely makes, the formula is shown on a piece of paper to be a cyclic polysiloxane, although no professional chemist would bother to explicitly draw all the hydrogens and carbons.

I was laughing that they would try and pass off such a simple molecule as a drug, but that was actually the point. The whole "new product" never existed -it was just a bait to get the competitor to expose himself. In the end, the molecule is described as a lotion, although actually it might be a part of a lotion, but would never be a lotion itself - a small point.

A larger point that actually could have helped the competitor realize that the product was a fraud was that there were no clinical evaluations going on. Nobody can introduce a new drug without first registering it with the FDA and going through 3 phases of clinical evaluations - all of which are very public. Everyone knows what is in the pipeline of all the pharmaceuticals.

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