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March 2, 2006
Procter and Gamble Throws in the Towel
As mentioned in a comment thread here several days ago, P&G looks to be finally giving up on in-house drug development. 300 jobs are being cut at the Mason, OH site, and they're all from Drug Discovery. That'll pretty much do it - all that's left now is drug development for inlicensed compounds.
If you check P&G's pharmaceutical web site, though, you won't be able to tell that anything is going on. Still, the front-page mentions of career opportunities in Marketing and Brand Management are perhaps a tip-off to the company's priorities. The R&D page is particularly painful:
We are rapidly expanding our capabilities and capacities. We have internal capabilities in most areas of pharmaceutical discovery, development and marketing. We also are committed to expanding these capabilities, gaining access to the latest scientific knowledge, utilizing the latest in technology advancements through active partnering with academia, national laboratories, and biotechnology and other pharmaceutical companies.
Sure thing! Procter and Gamble has been messing around in the drug discovery area for many years now, with painfully little to show for their own efforts. Despite some good people, some of whom have been subsequent colleagues of mine at other companies, they've never made that much headway. Eye-rolling comments about shampoo and fabric softener are not uncommon from former employees.
P&G has done all sorts of deals with smaller companies, and I presume the more advanced of these will continue on their (merry?) way. But in the long run, you have to wonder. Discovery research has turned out to be too foreign for the company to deal with. And while development is different, it's a lot more like drug discovery than it's like the laundry detergent game. Who's to say that it won't eventually drive the brand managers crazy as well?
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