The commericial race to put therapeutic peptides and proteins into pill form worries those who fear reckless research.

Against a backdrop of secrecy and suspicion, researchers are working on a pill that would deliver protein and polypeptide drugs into the body, and could generate billions of dollars in annual sales for biotechnology and pharmaceutical firms. But some scientists, looking at the radically different scientific and business approaches being pursued in the pill's development, have begun to wonder if commercial pressures to find new ways to deliver drugs orally have begun to affect the quality of the science involved.

"The development of oral delivery systems is one big game of bluff and double bluff," says Glynn Wilson, a biochemist at SmithKline Beecham Pharmaceuticals in King of Prussia, Pa., one of the big drug companies working on new ways to deliver these medicines to the body in pill form.

Finding a drug...

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