The ax is falling again at GlaxoSmithKline. This time it’s the oncology group.
Last month the cardiovascular people got this same treatment, you’ll recall, and there was some disagreement about how many jobs were being affected. But it looks like the company is moving one by one through its Centers of Excellence in Drug Discovery (CEDDs) and running a most excellent scythe through them. By the time they’re through, the total number of layoffs looks like it will be substantial indeed.
That’s because inside each area so far the cutbacks are pretty sweeping. Total oncology head count is apparently being reduced by about 40%. Discovery chemistry seems, unfortunately, to be getting it a bit worse, since some of the sub-areas aren't losing head count at all. The estimates I have are that of the c. 120 chemists in the area, about 60 are losing their jobs. That includes the entire oncology med-chem group at the Research Triangle Park location, and from what I'm told, none of them are being relocated to the Philadelphia-area sites. So much for discovering Tykerb, et al.
Are all of the CEDDs going to get this same treatment, or to the same degree? GSK isn’t saying, but I’d certainly bet on this sort of thing happening again as the year goes on. What the company’s research arm will look like when it’s all over is anybody’s guess, too, but there’s one thing for sure: it’ll be a heck of a lot smaller.
And whether this new trimmed-down inlicensed/outsourced GSK will be any more productive is anybody’s guess either. But we won’t know that for a long time. It’ll take quite a while just for all of these changes to stop reverberating through the company, for one thing, and then it’ll be several years after that before it’ll be possible to look at the pipeline and have a majority of it be a product of the new organization. As I’ve said before, this is one the biggest challenges in trying to engineer a large-scale change in a drug discovery shop – the lag time before you see the effects.
I’m already seeing resumes, but I’d like to invite any readers who know of openings for experienced drug discovery positions to either mention them in the comments or email me about them for a future post. (I did a lot of that during my own experience with a site closure, but of course, this time I don’t know most of the people involved personally). At the rate things are going, I’m going to have to start running classified ads down the right side of the page.