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DBL%20Hendrix%20small.png College chemistry, 1983

Derek Lowe The 2002 Model

Dbl%20new%20portrait%20B%26W.png After 10 years of blogging. . .

Derek Lowe, an Arkansan by birth, got his BA from Hendrix College and his PhD in organic chemistry from Duke before spending time in Germany on a Humboldt Fellowship on his post-doc. He's worked for several major pharmaceutical companies since 1989 on drug discovery projects against schizophrenia, Alzheimer's, diabetes, osteoporosis and other diseases. To contact Derek email him directly: derekb.lowe@gmail.com Twitter: Dereklowe

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In the Pipeline

« GSK: Money-Green Outside, Pink-Slip Inside | Main | Suits vs. Lab Coats? »

June 11, 2008

More On the GSK Layoffs

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Posted by Derek

Thoughts on the GSK cutbacks, whose size, interestingly, is reported by Reuters this morning as (only) 350 jobs (i.e. 2%) worldwide, a figure which does not jibe with what I've been hearing from various people on the ground:

1. If the company seriously expects external collaborations to run at the same level of detail and efficiency as their internal research, they’re kidding themselves. I think – or hope – that they’re smarter than that, and that they’re planning to mostly just buy these things outright, as with Sirtris, rather than strike collaborative deals for them. Of course, they now have fewer people to prosecute the fruits of those acquisitions, but someone appears to think the numbers add up.

2. Doesn’t a statement that you’re going to emphasize external research rather than internal stand as an indictment of upper management? After all, who set the priorities and funded the programs? They surely won’t let individual project leaders or area heads explain lack of progress as “just one of those things, you know how it goes”, so how to explain what is apparently a catastrophic lack of progress across the board? And what does this say about the whole “Centers of Excellence” framework for drug discovery, erected some years ago at great cost of time and money?

3. Still, if you’re going to do such as thing as cut half your research staff, it’s probably better to go ahead and do it the way that GSK did. Update: see the comments. This has actually dragged on for a while, and productivity appears to have gone where it goes in the sentence after next. Get it over with in one day rather than spread it out over time, department by department. The latter method sends productivity straight to hell. The death-of-a-thousand-cuts routine tends to terrify and dismay everyone, even in areas that are left untouched, and it sends a lot of good people out the door on their own.

4. But it’s not that productivity is going to be anything wonderful at GSK now. The people that are left will feel (will have felt?) a brief interval of relief that they still have jobs. But that’s followed by the employment equivalent of survivor guilt as they watch longtime colleagues go out the door, and on the heels of that comes the realization that nothing in particular holds the company back from doing the same thing to them, whenever it sees fit. That brings on (rightly) a feeling that you owe your company exactly as much loyalty as it seems to owe you. Many good people will be looking for the door themselves, and will be gone as soon as an opportunity presents itself.

Comments (50) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business and Markets


COMMENTS

1. Don B. on June 11, 2008 7:51 AM writes...

Survivor guilt is real!

However, other companies have just as bad management.

Permalink to Comment

2. Clark Kent on June 11, 2008 8:36 AM writes...

"3. Still, if you’re going to do such as thing as cut half your research staff, it’s probably better to go ahead and do it the way that GSK did. Get it over with in one day rather than spread it out over time, department by department."

Actually GSK has been going through constant job cuts for ~18 months. They have slowly gone from department to department and cut staff. This weeks cuts are mainly from just 3 of the CEDDS. Other CEDDs have had cuts earlier and some have yet to have their cuts.

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3. Wonderdrug on June 11, 2008 8:43 AM writes...

This layoff has been dragged out for months. We were originally told about it back in March. Then, over the next three months, information trickled in about when, how many, etc. All employees had to "reapply" for their jobs and fill out extensive paperwork "justifying" their work. Then there was a month when everyone just waited around - we weren't even allowed to work in the lab.

It was nice to be paid for a few more months, but this was the most inefficient layoff I've ever seen. Productivity has been nonexistent for the past couple of months, and the months of uncertainty have just made everyone unhappy and tense. I don't think people will jump in and get back to work so easily.

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4. burt on June 11, 2008 8:43 AM writes...

"If the company seriously expects external collaborations to run at the same level of detail and efficiency as their internal research,"

Todays MBA's are stupid enough to believe outsourcing to 3rd World countries with no IP safeguards (e.g China) is a workable plan. Presumably, they still leave their teeth under their pillows at night, waiting for the tooth fairy.

I'm surprised they touched Philly.

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5. emjeff on June 11, 2008 9:48 AM writes...

"And what does this say about the whole “Centers of Excellence” framework for drug discovery, erected some years ago at great cost of time and money?"

Well, it says it didn't work, mostly because they never implemented the CEDD concept properly. The CEDDS were supposed to act as independent incubator units, much like start-up biotech companies. The problem, though, is that from the start they were micromanaged by the central R&D organization, who dictated their every move. As a results, the CEDDS were never independent, and were never able to take risks, because they were just R&D departments within the organization.

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6. anon on June 11, 2008 9:54 AM writes...

"As a results, the CEDDS were never independent, and were never able to take risks, because they were just R&D departments within the organization."

Maybe Big Pharma should simply discontinue Drug Discovery. The money they save should be put into a big VC fund. GSK is taking baby steps in this direction. PFE does ESSENTIALLY this; they probably have 20% of the research staff now that they had when they were a viable entity (guestimate)

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7. Chemist on June 11, 2008 11:03 AM writes...

Is this an-end for June layoff? Or just a beginning....

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8. schinderhannes on June 11, 2008 11:03 AM writes...

I know exactly how it feels to see your colleagues being told that they are on a redundancy list. At our wonder drug factory this lead to a substantial attrition number of those intended to stay cause they were considered high potentials. In the end a few of those assigned to go were allowed to stay. So the Darwinistic selection approach didn´t really work to well. Productivity is zero throughout the process :-(

I feel sorry for anyone who has to go thru this.

But this isn´t really the purpose of my post:

Everybody keeps repeating that stupid mantra “biotech startups are so much more productive”. As if we were stupid little MBAs as well!
I don’t believe a word of that! Derek had a conclusive analysis on the success rates of drug candidates from startups vs. Big Pharma inlicensed vs. Big Pharma inhouse. Didn’t seem to me like start ups are so much more productive. At least in some cases their drugs are sort of immature leads rather than really developed to a level Big Pharma can.
On top of that, who counts all those start-ups that go belly up?
Has anybody really conclusive data showing the start-up approach is more cost effective after all? Before I see that I’m inclined to push back on that kind of common knowledge!
Maybe we all should (until them MBAs start listening).

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9. CMC guy on June 11, 2008 11:50 AM writes...

Biotechs/Biopharmas, and especially start-ups, are not more effective in many ways. Even if they lack some of the redundancies and bloat in a bigger organizations they however often lack complete sets or the different skills required for both discovery and development stages. Pretty much all Projects require a certain critical mass and combination of disciplines at various stages that again in many cases is not there in smaller places. Plus there are fewer chances for atypical cross-fertilization factor that can be keys to success. Although have consultants and outsourcing to cover gaps these bring issues to deal with and not necessarily less costly or as effective.

A major contrast can be in focus and leadership as smaller companies do tend to be able to concentrate efforts better (largely as matter of survival) and are run by people/teams who are not as detracted from activities (and more oriented in science/medicine). Perhaps that is what the CEDDs where attempting but if too much centralized control the idea faltered.

Not sure they exists anymore but if one wants innovation and successful drugs we should aim for more medium sized places that have the adequate breadth of elements and skill sets and also less likely to only chase (calculated) blockbuster projects.

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10. Merkwurdigliebe on June 11, 2008 12:08 PM writes...

Ah, yes. They started the layoffs right about the time I started asking them for a job somehwere around the beginning of 2007.

The industry (in the US as least) is dead. I should have gone to medical school. Instead I'm punching a keyboard for $12.50 an hour.

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11. processchemist on June 11, 2008 12:34 PM writes...

This stuff reminds me of the BMS switch to biggest biopharma global player (or something like this). People in Europe where informed about cuts by US newspapers/blogs, and waited for months for axe to fall...

Permalink to Comment

12. molecular_architect on June 11, 2008 12:41 PM writes...

All this talk about the CEDDs and other nonsense that went on at GSK reminds me of the first layoffs I experienced on my first professional job. These were major cutbacks at a large company in the mid-80s. Nature or Science (I can't remember which) aptly described the downsizing as "the result of less than sagacious planning".

In my experience, this seems to be the only type of planning taught in our business schools.

Permalink to Comment

13. cheese bob on June 11, 2008 12:46 PM writes...

How long before the rest of the lemmings follow the GSK lead? Wonder what this industry will look like in 5 years time.

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14. Wonderdrug on June 11, 2008 1:24 PM writes...

The new "reorganized" GSK is going even further along the "pretend to be a biotech" route. Each of the newly slashed groups will be organized as an independent entity, that's funded for three years. Biology, chemistry, etc. will all be self-contained within the new group.

My first thought on hearing this was, are biotechs really so well run? Maybe if you only consider the successes and discount all the ones that go under. The big problem I can see with this model is that there's no way to put more resources on a project that's really going well. One advantage in bigger pharma companies is that you can move people around as needed, and consolidate resources instead of having a lot of duplicate effort. And when I worked in the biotech world, I saw a lot of bad decisions being made because "we've got to have something to show to the investors" or "we've got to choose a compound right now, because we don't have the money to wait for one of the better leads to pan out." I'm not sure this is something to be emulated.

But what do I know? I just got laid off.

Permalink to Comment

15. HelicalZz on June 11, 2008 1:34 PM writes...

The growth industry right now is CROs. That is where many of these individuals will likely be headed. Efficient use of CROs makes a lot of sense, since many projects are of a temporary nature anyway. Smaller companies have known this for some time and used CROs mostly out of necessity - now big pharma is seeing that partnering with a CRO rather than building an organization is a sensible use of funds / resources.

And no, this doesn't mean its all headed to India / China.

Zz - not an MBA (sadly).

Permalink to Comment

16. burt on June 11, 2008 1:41 PM writes...

"My first thought on hearing this was, are biotechs really so well run? Maybe if you only consider the successes and discount all the ones that go under."

That's exactly the point; the ones that go belly up don't get swallowed by the Borg.

Permalink to Comment

17. satan on June 11, 2008 2:59 PM writes...

The problem is that what MBAs today are practicing is closer to mercantilism than capitalism. Read Adam Smith's books if you want to fully appreciate what I am saying.

In Mercantilism, the emphasis is on accumulating money (think management payouts, parachutes, options etc). This is often done in cahoots with the government and important powerful individuals (think money management sociopaths)to keep out competition.

The problem with this system is that it concentrates money into the hands of a few (MBAs and other sociopaths) and hinders good investments (useful drug discovery). Without good investments there is no new wealth (no novel products). The end result is that the country (pharma) eventually becomes poorer and more dysfunctional even though the amount of money remains constant or even increases.

The problem is that most MBA types do not understand (or ignore) that money is not wealth. Money cannot make ones life better if it there is no wealth to buy. Wealth creation is what makes money useful. Wealth creation can only be accomplished by investing money into things that can create something new or better. That involves hiring people to do the work, and having customers solvent enough to buy your product/ service.

Of course everyone knows this.. right?

Permalink to Comment

18. SRC on June 11, 2008 3:32 PM writes...

A large company for which I worked in a former life underwent six rounds of layoffs (!), and then the CEO called a meeting at headquarters to ask what had happened to employee loyalty.

It was one of those awkward moments when one doesn't whether to laugh, because your boss just made a joke, or whether to nod gravely because your boss just made what he thought was a serious point.

Turns out, it was the latter. We R&D guys just exchanged sub rosa WTF? looks.

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19. Sili on June 11, 2008 3:36 PM writes...

Doesn't a statement that you're going to emphasize external research rather than internal stand as an indictment of upper management?
AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAHAHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAaaaaaaaaaaaa *cough* *wheeze*

Sorry. I'll try to behave now ...

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20. J on June 11, 2008 6:09 PM writes...

I just got layed off today. I feel relieved that it's over. The anxiety about not knowing your fate, not being able to make a single decision and knowing there are so many great scientists and great friends that will soon be gone has been unbearable. I don't see future for GSK. If what they have done so far is a glimpse of what is to come they you can pretty much assume in 3 years, like alot of biotechs, GSK will go belly up. I don't know what the future holds but I hope the US, big pharma and biotechs has more respect for our talented scientists. Companies are going to other countries to get things on the cheap. We'll I hope they get what they pay for. I find it very sad that I feel that I might not have a future at doing the one thing that I truly love. I wish the best of luck to all who are gone today. Let's hope there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

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21. Skeptic on June 11, 2008 8:28 PM writes...

"...has more respect for our talented scientists"

Talented in a past era perhaps but many of them are simply obsolete today and need to be pushed out. Another large group represent expensive overhead.

Theres that saying: "old flies come here to die"; you look around this site and that comes to mind for the med chemists.

I'm just saying the bean counters have a point. Can the old hand move the industry forward even if they get the time and money? I say no, they cannot.

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22. BCP on June 11, 2008 10:00 PM writes...

Quite the charade with the number count being released by GSK today -- have to agree with Derek the numbers seem much bigger than 350.

The "biotech is more productive" line is a dangerous one. It's half true. Biotechs are more nimble than big pharma -- I've seen it myself from both sides of that divide. Lots of things happen more quickly - decision making, data dissemination, changes in tactics - because they don't have the huge momentum of a big pharma company. At the same time there is risk.

I think that a big reason that biotech appears beguiling to big pharma is that they get to swan around and cherry pick the more successful, innovative projects that typically have got some sort of human proof of concept data behind them (yeah, I know there are exceptions, sirtuins anyone?). The thing is, that this means that the big company only pays for success, as defined by whatever criteria they choose to apply to the biotech drug candidates. This flip side of this is they don't pay for all of the failed biotech programs - of which there are many. Contrast this with an internal-only approach where you bear the time and monetary cost of all the projects that fail -- I've got to think that this is part of the attraction.

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23. Anonymous BMS Researcher on June 11, 2008 10:03 PM writes...

processchemist on June 11, 2008 12:34 PM wrote...

>This stuff reminds me of the BMS switch to
>biggest biopharma global player (or something
>like this). People in Europe where informed
>about cuts by US newspapers/blogs, and waited
>for months for axe to fall...

The official buzzwords are "Next-generation biopharma model" and "productivity transformation" to enable "cost-disciplined science," so we can "change the culture" and attain "seamless integration of science and marketing" by practicing "lean sigma methodologies." I could go on, but that's as much Dilbert stuff as I can stand to write...

Permalink to Comment

24. BCP on June 11, 2008 10:09 PM writes...

PS - Derek - I couldn't agree more with point 2. I'm disappointed to have not seen anyone comment on this in the press. The CEDD concept has been trumpeted for a while now as a fantastic innovation, but apparently it has failed to deliver. Perhaps the excitement generated by the CEDD concept was just a reflection of the poorer shape that GSK was in beforehand. G-W was certainly not a well oiled machine.

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25. eugene on June 11, 2008 10:09 PM writes...

"Can the old hand move the industry forward even if they get the time and money? I say no, they cannot."

If you say that, then you are foolish and you don't know too many chemists. I know people in their fifties who work at the bench (with a PhD) and they are a lot more effective at synthesizing complex compounds very quickly and coming up with novel solutions than young chemists in their late 20s with a PhD. Your brain doesn't start deteriorating until you're in your late 60s at the earliest. An older chemist is more valuable and that's why many are afraid they'll ask for more money.

As for starting companies and coming up with new business plans, I don't know too many managers in their 30s, so your point is doubly foolish. According to that view, the 'bean counters' should fire themselves for being too old.

Also, I'm pretty sure you're a troll who trying to stir shit up, that's why I didn't get too upset.

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26. Skeptic on June 11, 2008 11:40 PM writes...

I was referring to new skills, knowledge, etc, and not the age of the scientists. Specifically in the space of RNAi. I suppose I could use the ugly umbrella term, Systems Biology, but so much of that which infests the Nature publications is rubbish and thus I prefer to call it quantitative biology.

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27. CMC guy on June 12, 2008 12:44 AM writes...

Skeptic thanks for clarifying as earlier post made you seem not only skeptical but rather idiotic. Although some will not be able to integrate I think majority of scientists could adapt to the new areas, so given time & money plus guidance from those with more expertise in new stuff I think old hands could contribute to progress. Pretty much every new thing I have seen in 20 years intersects with established (old) ways at some point to get to a drug. Unless rapid large leaps occur in our knowledge of Human Body Systems the traditional approach should have value even though always should be improved upon when possible.

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28. Jose on June 12, 2008 1:28 AM writes...

Mr. McGuire: "I want to say one word to you. Just one word."
Benjamin: "Yes, sir."
Mr. McGuire: "Are you listening?"
Benjamin: "Yes, I am."
Mr. McGuire: "Bourbon!"

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29. GSK lover on June 12, 2008 6:39 AM writes...

Yes- The promised wall has collapsed due the crap that it was filled with to please all the investors and to inflate the stock, expenditures were minimized before the merger. In fact, expense pay outs were delayed until after the merger. So crooked are their thoughts, how could these same folks care about research?
Now the research is cut to please (fool) the investors probably to inflate the stock price yet again in preparation for another merger.

Folks that are being layed off should consider themselves to be lucky due to the massive impending layoff's in the next 3 to 5 years by other big pharma's (eg Pfizer, Merck). What a waste of a great company.

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30. J on June 12, 2008 7:20 AM writes...

Skeptic. I guess smart educated people could not possibly be trained to do anything else. I find having been in Big Pharma that I learned something new everyday. I embraced new technology and incorporated every chance I got. I recieved my PhD 5 and half years ago in organic chemistry and I feel, no I know that I could be trained to do just about anything. But thanks for the vote of confidence.

I think that if investors know so much about the industry and the new CEO at GSK, who has a BS in business, feel they could do it better. The perhaps it is time for them to throw on a labcoat and show us how it's done.

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31. GSK lover on June 12, 2008 7:58 AM writes...

This is a classic comment of someone who has been naive about corporate politics and has not been struck as yet. Believe me, its all about money and it gets evil behind closed doors. The more you stay in the industry the worse it gets. Right now you are getting used like a new rented car which will be eventually sold on the parking lot for a reduced price. Maybe you should read on some classic management books and focus less on science. That would educate you and make you more rounded.

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32. Anonymous on June 12, 2008 9:43 AM writes...

"Although some will not be able to integrate I think majority of scientists could adapt to the new areas"

I agree with this notion which is why the assertion that in the near future PhD Life Scientist will be "unemployable in the field" is rubbish.

Folks, the sky is not falling.

The ENTIRE Ann Arbor site for Pfizer closed last year including hordes of discovery biologists and chemists. Of the lot, some were retained and relo'ed to Groton. Others moved on from Pfizer and from my sample of 20 med chemists I contacted last year, 18 have found gainful employment. The remaining 2 who havent thus far have relo issues involving school age children but still draw a paycheck as consultants.

If the only thing you can post here is "MBA's are evil and have ruined my career"--then you sound like a loser to me and maybe a little unemployment will get your head out of your rear.

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33. Mark M on June 12, 2008 9:48 AM writes...

Sorry, that was me on the last post. I dont purposefully post anonymously.

Hey Eugene: stay classy.

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34. KTN_QOP on June 12, 2008 10:13 AM writes...

The pharmaceutical market is rapidly dividing into buyers and sellers. Look at the last 3 quarters results. Clearly, the larger pharmas won't be the ones with the good molecules to sell. They'll need cash to in-license and therefore WILL be dumping more research personnel. Big pharmas pipelines are emptying out as they reassess what emerging science really is.

If you lost your job, use your talents to get yourself something on the seller side. There are smaller companies, with good assets out there. But no, biotechs aren't the panacea. What will take the hit, if we're not careful, is the safety of a potential drug as leadership chases the ultimate commercial impact.

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35. Jose on June 12, 2008 11:14 AM writes...

A counterpoint to skeptic and Mark M and others:
No, industry doesn't owe anyone a living just because you spent (x) number of years in school. There *will* always be a job out there, but constant relocations under stressful conditions, to work for smaller and smaller companies, with less and less capital (and usually higher wingnut quotients) sounds like a less than ideal way to spend the next 30 years. Doing hard research is difficult enough without being handicapped by lack of resources. No NMR, no LC/MS, no SciFinder, too little money for starting materials? There is a point when the frustrations of research under those conditions outweigh any possible job satisfaction.

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36. CMC guy on June 12, 2008 11:40 AM writes...

Mark M- thanks for supportive echo however I am not as optimistic as you which could be matter of time perspective. I think the "field" is changing rapidly, some will adapt and others won't. Near term prospects might support present levels of employment in smaller organizations doing drug R&D but I think attitudes and funding trends are negative and we are headed for being second/third string players in Global innovation. Sky may not be falling now but if rain continues we could be washed away in the floods.

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37. Mark M on June 12, 2008 11:53 AM writes...

Jose: I do agree that in those limiting situations that one would probably want to move onto another field that still uses their skill set.

However, the small cap firms where I place med chemists and the mid cap firm where Derek now works have all of the tools you mentioned and are often led by ex-big Pharma types who have proven capacity for getting compounds into man. And they are in hiring mode at the moment for medicinal chemists through Director level.

The tiny firm for which i worked until laid off even had those tools available, if not directly in-house (they were across the street at the University).

So, not all non-big pharma firms are biotech wastelands. A careful due diligence before and during an interview will sort the wheat from the chaffe.

The constant relocation problem affects all pharma scientists and can sometimes be offset by judicious selection of new locale. But this is hit or miss.

I return to my original thesis (are you listening Eugene?) that if your passion drives you hard enough, you will go down a path to find out for yourself what it is like no matter what some disgruntled old fart tells you. If you are not sure about your path, chances are you will not enter science as a career option anyway after finding out even a little bit of the "real score".

If a younster came to me and convinced me he really wanted to synthesize new drugs for a living because that is what he felt was his calling, I would point out the pitfalls (instability, locale restriction, wage ceiling, duration of traing involved) while ALSO telling him the possible path for success. Killing a young person's spirit for inquiry is egregious--I stand by that OPINION.

And yes, I am a cheery fellow by nature, Jose--thanks for the comment. It's just a better way to live life I think.

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38. Anon on June 12, 2008 7:01 PM writes...

On GSK management:

When stupid people are doing the work of smart people, the results will almost always be stupid.

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39. GSK Lover on June 13, 2008 7:53 AM writes...

Anon, I would agree with that comment. None of these guys know how to run the business. Its become a free for all thing. They talk about the science but they don't even have the expertise in house. Ironically, most of the people kept will leave within the next 3 years, it would be stupid not to. The new 3 year model is a set up for more layoff's. Its easier to cut off a smaller but beautiful DPU (Diffilcult performance Unit). Since they don't know the science, they management justifies their keep but having more reorgs so they have something to do. In the last 18 months it has been nothing but layoff's. In essence the investors shown be worried that these guys have lost approx over half their budget (3 billion) on
making these changes with nothing added to the pipeline. To add to that they are buying 700 million worth companies that don't even have a drug in phase 2, talk about smart people!

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41. eugene on June 13, 2008 10:12 AM writes...

Yes Mark, I was listening. But I also decided to listen to my parents and apply to university, even though that was the last thing I wanted to do right after high school, and now I'm here (commenting on a chemistry blog).

Passion only gets you so far. As Bert Brecht writes, sarcastically, in the Threepenny Opera: "Zuerst musst du uns was zu fressen geben, dann koennt ihr reden, dann kommt die Moral". (At first you should give us something to eat before speaking about your morals!)

Unfortunately for that communist, it turned out to be a truism. My uncle who got an engineering degree finally decided to start a business selling household crap and he's never been happier than after he became a millionaire. Personally, I would be happy doing what I love for a low salary with poor job security, although I would try very hard to improve my circumstance within that field. However, that is not true for the majority of the population. Money, and earning a lot of it, is tied into a person's self-worth and feelings of adequacy. I read recently about a biologist in Cuba who quit her research job to start a farm. She's never been happier now that she makes 10 times her former salary.

You can't ignore money and security as a motivation. As for passion, it can get you very far as long as it's not a passion for you job. Look at where the passion of the former governor of New York got him. He was a very passionate person and that's why he couldn't help but express it for prostitutes, where they finally caught him.

With these kinds of circumstances surrounding human nature, it means that if pay and security are poor, it's not necessarily only those who love chemistry the most, that will be the best at it, or the best researches. There needs to be a balance in the "money,security - passion" equation to attract the best talent.

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42. ss on July 6, 2008 10:50 PM writes...

Whatever GSK took to layoff its employee, the negative impact is always there. People were hurt both physically, financially and psychologcially. It's true that it's not an efficient way to cut off staff by spreading rumor for a while. During this period, no one could concentrate their job, doing nothing but waiting for the final announcement. This is the stupid strategy to layoff people. There are quite a few reasons for this to happen. Some senior managersinside the circle didn't tight their lips obviously. This conduct will not be pushnished as those working in Wall Street or CIA etc. But the negative impact is underestimated. People could do bad things during this period. To layoff people isn't a good thing to do and isn't an easy thing to do either. Sometimes politics is more important. There must be a ferious debate about the division to be closed. Everyone wants their department to be alive. In the end some of them have to go. Never believe this is a pure business decision. It's for sure if the financial situation is good, no one wants to cut off its staff. If the financial gets bad, there are really not many choices on the table except laying off people. To decide who should go or who should stay is never an easy thing to do. I have also went through one layoff. The decision was made purely based on the manager's favor. You can blame there if there is no fairness, the company could get worse and more layoff could be on the way. Whatever you blame, the manager just do whatever is good for themselves. Do they care the hard working scientists? Of course not. If so, they should take a cut in their compenstion andput more money to save more jobs. On the contrary, the salary and compensation will never be effected by the deteriorating business. They always think themselves first to see what they can do for themselves, then think about other employee. My experience is if there is a bid layoff waiting for you, offensive strategy should be taken instead of defense measure. When your turn comes, it might be too later for you to do anything. But at presetn job market, it's easy to say than to do. GSK has been asked all the potential layoffs to reapply and filled out the application to justifying their stay with GSK. What a ridiculous measure GSK is using. This could demoralize their people and out them at low productivity for the long run.

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43. CMC guy on July 8, 2008 5:03 PM writes...

Glaxo doubling China R&D:

http://www.biospace.com/news_story.aspx?NewsEntityId=102658 which leads to
http://www.reuters.com/article/marketsNews/idINSHA1858820080708?rpc=44

Eliminate 350 "High Costs" jobs to support 350 "lower costs" postions. Sounds like a simple offset equation but doubt much progress will result in immediate time frame (5-10 years). Day Traders are probably rejoicing at the wisdom.

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44. Bebe on October 12, 2008 6:51 AM writes...

I didn't read all the post hear but I will tell you that it is not just management getting the boot. Packaging and manufacturing operators are getting the packages as well. Round three for these departments is coming up at the end of Oct is what every one in these depts is hearing.

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45. former pharmer on November 7, 2008 5:47 AM writes...

I saw the handwriting on Pharmas wall in 2002 and left GSK and the industry after 20 years. I now work in consumer proudcts. I dp miss the intellectual challange of the chemistry/biology interface and the people this industry attracts. What I gained is a measure of job security as my new careeer involves improving chemistry and manufacturing costs/quality for high volume consumer products that can't be economically shipped from overses. This work requires my physical presence at sites in the US and so the principal threat to my job is limited mostly to imported Asian Scientists. No job is guaranteed but I would recommend this strategy to any of my colleagues who are tired of being migrant chemists. Move to an industry where you can have a visible impact on the bottom line especially if it's by way of cutting oil inputs and CO2 outputs. This is the future in a world that decides health care is a right and intellectual property rights are secondary to the "greater good". Cheers to all my friends of Burroughs Wellcome heritage.

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46. Current Pharmer on December 14, 2008 6:37 AM writes...

Dear "Former Pharmer",

You make some interesting observations...I recall reading a recent article interview with J.P. before he retired. J.P. seemed frustrated and concern about not retaining foreign GSK Scientist in the UK or US. J.P. moment that talented scientists would work for GSK then move back to their country after a few years.

I am all for diversity and I truly believe it is critical to any company's success. I think more has to be done to thoroughly review individual's long term goals before hiring. What good is it to hire talented employees from other countries, invest valuable time in their growth and they do not have intention to stay with GSK or knowingly will move back home after a few years.

Also, mid-level manager's play a key role in the hiring, growth, retention and resignation of an employee, GSK need to also look at those mid level managers who are talented scientists but lack the management skills and qualities to work with people or who have personal agendas. If GSK take action, ask the tough questions, clean-up mid management and outsource vendors then the company will see significant benefit.

"Former Pharmer", if action is taken then people like yourself can build GSK back up.

Thanks
Current Pharmer

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47. operator on February 25, 2009 3:31 PM writes...

I haven't looke at all the articles that have popped up regarding GSK layoffs but I have seen only one post reguarding the manf and packaging operators. The articles have been about other employees. Not that they are any less important but still it's hitting the whole company not just one department.

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48. operator on February 25, 2009 3:32 PM writes...

I haven't looke at all the articles that have popped up regarding GSK layoffs but I have seen only one post reguarding the manf and packaging operators. The articles have been about other employees. Not that they are any less important but still it's hitting the whole company not just one department.

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49. Yong Merkel on March 29, 2014 1:10 PM writes...

In the never-ending controversy about racism, is it not a bit ironicthat organizations like the NAACP and endless left wing individualsaccuse conservatives, Tea Party supporters, etc. of racism, asif that were a bad thing? How can that be? Support for racismunder euphemisms like 'affirmative action' is policy of theDemocratic Party and now built into law in various ways. Apparentlythere are new instances in the medical 'reform' bill and even in thefinancial 'reform' bill. That is, these policies explicitly discriminateagainst individuals purely on the basis of their racial characteristics.

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50. Mark L on July 9, 2014 6:59 PM writes...

In the mid 80s businesses downsized by dumping most of their Sr staff, almost all of their mid-level staff, and now relaying heavily on Jr level staff, what company first started this trend?

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