Leo Mathur, PhD, spent much of the past year writing a book that he hopes will help average people better understand how to use medicines safely and wisely. When he talks about the book, his passion for helping is clear -- not surprising when you look at his 25-year career helping Pfizer and its legacy companies bring innovative, new medicines to improve patients’ health.
Leo began his corporate pharmaceutical career in 1979 as a group leader for product development at the Skokie, Illinois-based G.D. Searle & Co., which later became Pharmacia. His team developed cardiovascular and gastrointestinal products and also made supplies used in clinical trials. Years later, he served as director of bioprocess support for the Pfizer Global Manufacturing group, working with Pfizer’s biotechnology business partners. He retired in 2004.
Leo looks back with pride in his involvement with a company that developed many important new product that helped patients, such as the first nitroglycerin patches and once-a-day Theophylline capsules for asthma patients.
One project especially close to his heart was the launch of Celebrex, a drug for the treatment of arthritis, in 1999. His group helped provide the capsule supplies needed for the launch, packaged in bottles and blister packs. He vividly remembers the 80 large trailers filled with supplies that were shipped from Philadelphia to Memphis.
“It was the largest product launch in the history of the pharmaceutical industry at the time,” Leo said. “It was a mammoth task, all done by dedicated teams and completed on-time.”
“I really enjoyed helping the company bring new and innovative products to the market and staying ahead of the competition in a very competitive field. But mostly I enjoyed bringing products that were safe, effective and really helped the patient.”
This focus on safety, effectiveness and helping patients is part of Leo’s inspiration for writing his book, Understanding the Side Effects of Drugs. The book explains, in layman’s terms, how drugs work in the body, the reactions they produce and how to avoid the adverse effects. The fact that his brother died in 2006 from a serious medication reaction also fueled Leo’s desire to write the book.
“There’s a lot of information available to the public about side effects of medications, but there’s not a lot that explains why we get side effects,” Leo said. He emphasized that understanding how individuals can respond to medications differently, and learning about drug-drug interactions and food-drug interactions can help people avoid serious side effects.
With decades of experience supporting pharmaceutical clinical trials, Leo knows the effort, time, and money pharmaceutical companies put into ensuring that the drugs are safe and effective, and that the benefits patients are likely to receive, outweigh the risks due to side effects. However, he also wants the public to become more aware of the role individual variability (differences in height, weight, gender and other factors) plays in drug side effects.
Now that his book is complete, Leo is spending more time answering some of those questions. He is producing a short video on drug side effects as a community service to show residents in the community where he lives. He also gives free seminars for organizations and companies in his area, encouraging his audience to communicate more with their physicians and pharmacists. But he still finds time to enjoy photography and travelling the world with his wife.
In the end, he’s happy to be using his 25 years as a scientist and manager doing what he really enjoys doing.
If you are interested in learning more about Dr. Mathur’s book, contact him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.