Sunday, January 13, 2013

The blue pill - 7

(This is the seventh part of the short story The Blue Pill. You can find the entire story here.)

Dr. Achinta Roy and Karl Torrance got very comfortable with each other over the next few months. They got along very well. Their relationship was professional but had a touch of warmth. Torrance would make sure Dr. Roy got most of what he wanted keeping in mind the boundaries of a corporate structure. Dr. Roy was completely convinced that he had done the right thing by joining Babylon and bringing his work into the company.

Dr. Roy was happy with the fact that Torrance held similar values as he did. They both believed that dialysis patients suffered a lot and anything that could reduce their suffering was welcome. They agreed that the device would allow patients to break free from the shackles of conventional treatment modalities.

Work on the device was progressing as expected. There were small glitches which Dr. Roy and his team would mostly overcome. They got support from Torrance whenever needed to push something through, to get funding for an experiment and make sure any delays from other departments did not impede the work. The boundaries of the company's structure would never be crossed but things were made as smooth as possible.

As Dr. Roy saw it, in about a year, they would be able to start full scale clinical trials. They needed approval from a government organization that would allow them to recruit patients for the trials. Dr. Roy asked for a team of people who hand done similar trials on Babylon's behalf before. Torrance arranged a team for this immediately. In an email, Torrance told Dr. Roy, "I am putting my most trusted man, Sam Mulcahy on this. Let's get this out there quickly!"

Dr. Roy was elated. He began preparations for the trials immediately. He and Mulcahy chalked out a detailed plan for getting this trial going. They discussed what kinds of patients would be needed, what would actually be done in the trial, what they had to prove and other such details. They referred to previous such studies and firmed up their plans.

This was the first significant step that would put the device out there. So far, it was used under careful supervision for a very small number of patients, a strictly private thing. Now, during this trial, the device would actually be tested on a much larger group. The patients would be from very different backgrounds and would have varied medical conditions. The team would also have to produce many more copies of the device. It was critical that they did this very accurately because any small defect in even one of the copies could push the whole process back by many months in addition to the frustration that would inevitably accompany repetition of the exercise.

By this time, Dr. Roy's team had also grown significantly. He had brought on board many experts from Babylon's existing team and also hired new people with different backgrounds. All this was possible only with the financial power of a company like Babylon. Without people with expertise in different fields, it would be impossible to take this project to completion. Getting this kind of a team would have truly been impossible with the resources he had been able to gather back in his little lab at Kolkata.

In about six months, they had their first plan ready. They showed it to Torrance who did not get into the nitty-gritties but understood at a high level. He was ok with it. They submitted their plan to the authorities and waited patiently for the approvals.

After about a month, they got approval for the first clinical trial!

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