Bill Lockwood, Chairman/Publisher
Bill Lockwood, Chairman/Publisher

2021 turned out to be a year with interesting developments. Top of the list is the chip shortage, which has really affected the auto industry. The cars we drive today are dependent on “chips” to carry out many of the functions we, as drivers, enjoy. Chip makers cannot keep up with demand. From what I have read, we can expect this problem to continue in 2022.

Cryptocurrency got a boost from the launch of its first ETF (exchange-traded fund) during the year. But Bitcoin, while still not recognized by many as a legitimate currency, requires a massive amount of energy to mine this digital currency. And its large carbon footprint is a major criticism. A New York Times article in September stated that in 2009 you could mine one Bitcoin using a desktop computer. Today, you need a room full of specialized machines costing thousands of dollars.

Back in 2009 the amount of household electricity required to mine one coin was just a few seconds. Bitcoin’s value back then was nothing compared to today. However, the amount of household electricity now required is more than nine years’ worth, or more than $12,500. With the current value of one Bitcoin in excess of $60,000 (as of this writing), the profit incentive is there to do the mining, despite the vast amount of electricity consumed to do so.

And in 2021 we saw the emergence of synthetic biology, with a few synthetic biology companies going public during the year. Those who are enthusiastic supporters of this technology say that this change in biology can increase food production, fight disease, generate energy, and purify water. According to an additional New York Times article in September, money is pouring into this field from venture capitalists. Major pharmaceutical companies such as Bayer and Merck are pursuing this area, as are several start-up companies, one of which is called Ginkgo and was featured in the article. Synthetic biology could become a big business.

Another biotech company getting attention in 2021 is MeiraGTx. This is a gene therapy company developing what could be curative treatments for ocular indications, a salivary gland condition, and Parkinson’s disease. Johnson & Johnson has an ownership position and is covering the costs of the clinical trials. Suggest you read up on this company.

Medical treatment is going to be a lot different in the years to come. This is certain to change the training of future pharmacists. CT

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