“Nothing is certain except death and taxes,” Rupert said. “I heard it from a great authority.” 
“I’m sure you would know, since you were there when Ben Franklin wrote it,” Betty Lidalot said.
George Contenumbaes said, “Well, speaking in my official CFO capacity, those two exceptions are not exactly valid.”
Betty and Rupert stared at George. “Were you hoping to live forever?” Betty asked.
“Technically, corporations can live forever. Some states insist that Limited Liability companies are partnerships and must have a finite lifetime. But Cappuccino Pharmaceuticals can live forever. Wrong again, Mr. Franklin.”
Rupert eyed George warily. “Are you suggesting we can also avoid taxes?”
George raised his eyebrows in a blank look of utter innocence. “Oh, no, not me. But Apple and Google seem to suggest just that.”
Betty grunted. “Yes, I’ve been reading about their scam to offshore everything to Ireland and avoid billions in taxes. They wouldn’t be the first company.”
“Oh, there’s also Yahoo using both Ireland and the Cayman Islands,” George said. “Let’s not forget Amazon avoiding British taxes by putting its headquarters in Luxembourg. Same with Skype.”
“What a surprise,” Rupert said. “Corporations doing everything legally possible to save money. That party might be over, since I read that Ireland is discussing tax avoidance with the European Union. And France might impose some cheese-eater’s culture tax.”
“Enough of international corporations wheeling and dealing,” Betty said. “None of those are biotech related companies. Tell me something inevitable in our business.”
“Tossing out heads of R&D,” said Rupert. “You heard about AbbVie, Merck, and Bristol-Myers Squibb in the latest round, I’m sure.” Betty and George nodded. “Others might follow anytime soon. J&J’s CEO sent out a memo to its employees to reassess their corporate credo – not a good sign.”
“That doesn’t mean they will toss their R&D Vice President,” said Betty.
“Why not?” Rupert asked. “That’s what we do whenever there’s a problem.”
Betty rolled her eyes. “Rupert, there’s a wave of production disasters around the world. For one, there is the Canadian recall of drugs that used ingredients from a Chinese contract manufacturer. Boehringer Ingelheim is imploding and shaking up its management because of production disasters. But all of those are failures of execution, not of research.”
“You want failures of research?” Rupert asked. “Let’s talk about Alzheimer’s Disease drug failures. Baxter, Lilly, and the J&J-Elan collaboration. Three failures that waited until the most expensive time to fail. Why can’t failures happen before clinical trials?”
George sighed. “There’s only one thing left that’s certain in this business.” He paused for dramatic effect until Betty started tapping her foot on the tile floor. He inhaled and said, “Medicinal pot.”
Betty and Rupert groaned and glared at George.
“Hear me out on this one,” George said. “How many people like taking their meds? Think about the way Avastin is used to treat macular degeneration. I hear they inject the stuff right into the eyeball.”
Betty blanched. Rupert covered his eyes and muttered, “Ick, that’s disgusting.”
“Yes, there are well over a million eyeball injections per year,” George said. “But what about cannabis users? There was a study to study the link between pot smoking and what people thought the benefit of pot smoking would be.”
Betty looked dazed. “Are you saying they asked pot smokers if they liked smoking pot?”
“They asked if users had positive or negative expectancies of using pot. Funny thing, those who expected positive things from using pot, um, tended to keep using pot.”
“So people who like using pot will use pot,” Betty said. “Right?”
“Wouldn’t that fall under the ‘Well, Duh!’ category?” asked Rupert.
“Yes indeed,” said George. “It was a study done at the VA in Palo Alto. Using your tax money.” 
“My tax money!” Rupert and Betty cried in unison. “Augh!”