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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: Twitter: Dereklowe

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September 25, 2008

Pfizer: As We Speak?

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Posted by Derek

I'm hearing reports that Pfizer is telling employees in various therapeutic areas right now that there will be deep cuts coming, and that more details will be coming out in about two weeks (individual-level layoff notices, etc.) I gather that obesity research is being hit hard, and some others as well - but any details from people in a position to know would be appreciated.

This is a heck of a time to be laid off, that's for sure. Here's hoping that things aren't as bad as I'm hearing. . .

Comments (33) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business and Markets | Current Events


1. The Pharmacoepidemiologist on September 25, 2008 11:12 AM writes...

These are the first of the post-Lipitor patent expiration cuts, and I'm hearing they are going to be massive when all is said and done. However, the PR folks have intervened, and so they will be staged so they don't look so bad. Expect anyone with a house in Groton to have trouble selling it for quite some time.

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2. RTW on September 25, 2008 11:18 AM writes...

Not really a suprise. My many friends that migrated east from Ann Arbor, have for the most part started the job search again sometime ago. The continual instability of the organization made for a very difficult work environment. Additionally I understand that most of them feel they will be targeted, as being representatives of an organization that Groton wanted to dismantel in the first place. One only needs to look at the new contacts that are being made at many other Pharma and Biotech companies in Linked In to see that something negative must be happening at Pfizer.

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3. Sebastian on September 25, 2008 11:29 AM writes...

In San Diego they already let go all of their independent contractors as of July--(I know as my roommate was one of them).

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4. toxchick on September 25, 2008 11:36 AM writes...

I've heard from several solid sources that managers across the board are being told to give 30% of thier group "fails to meet expectations" on their reviews. You can guess what is going to happen to those unlucky 30% at the end of the year.

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5. Sebastian on September 25, 2008 11:47 AM writes...

"I've heard from several solid sources that managers across the board are being told to give 30% of thier group "fails to meet expectations" on their reviews."

I hope that isn't true. Everyone understands that layoffs in pharma are common. But getting fired for low performance isn't the same thing at all. I wonder if they are just trying to get out of paying unemployment? (I smell class action suit if that is true).

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6. sad to see on September 25, 2008 1:32 PM writes...

I heard that the packages being offered are very bare-bones - much less generous than previous, recent lay-offs.

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7. Jeff on September 25, 2008 2:43 PM writes...

Pfizer exits these area: Anemia, Atherosclerosis / Hyperlipidemia, Bone Health / Frailty, GI, Heart Failure, Liver Fibrosis, Muscle, Obesity, Osteoarthritis (disease modifying concepts only) and Peripheral Arterial Disease.

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8. You're Pfizered on September 25, 2008 2:45 PM writes...

I had heard that any layoffs after this year might not even get severance packages. Morale must be soaring in Groton. Makes for productive science.

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9. srp on September 25, 2008 4:46 PM writes...

It's sad. I remember 15 years ago when Merck bought Medco, amid cries that medical cost containment make R&D no longer profitable (the specter of Hillary-care loomed). The future was supposed to be in managing care, not developing new therapies.

Pfizer's CEO gave interviews against the tide, saying that vertical integration into distribution was stupid and that putting more resources into developing new drugs was the way to go. They had Viagra in the pipeline then, if I recall. How times have changed.

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10. Hap on September 25, 2008 5:10 PM writes...

I don't think there's ever a good time, but this is pretty bad.

No severance for layoffs after this year? That should make team meetings so much more congenial, and work much more productive. Kevlar and chain mail might be the new dress code...

I wonder if Mr. Kindler gets severance pay? I'm pretty sure I can guess.

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11. GSK is next on September 25, 2008 5:19 PM writes...

Looks like a horse race between Pfizer & GSK

GSK staff in preclin dev't have been told to expect BIG cuts any day now

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12. satan on September 25, 2008 5:20 PM writes...

Well.. well.. isn't this the logical conclusion of the 'MBA revolution' in pharma..

Have a look at wall street to see what could happen.. they went down this road from the late 70's. The 4 largest investment banks ceased to be investment banks in a period of less than 1 week.

The collapse in pharma might not be that spectacular, but it will happen if they keep on marching down this road. In any case we are more than halfway there..

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13. Hap on September 25, 2008 5:42 PM writes...

I think MBA people are probably being rational - the problem is that what is in their best interests and what is in the company's best interests (or that of its stockholders) are different. Theoretically, the stockholders are supposed to be able to rein in the executives if they threaten the stockholders' investment, but that never seems to happen in practice. Regulation can prevent or inhibit some behavior, but if the stockholders don't have control over their investment, then no one would seem to have any chance at influencing executives' decisions.

I am discounting that the stockholders believe this to be in their best interests - if your company doesn't discover any drugs, what does it plan to sell? I've been wrong before, and could be again, but the "marketing and sales only" model doesn't seem to work out well - the CEO of Hovione likened the business model of outsourcing to that of large automakers in C+E News. You mean, like that of GM, Ford, and Chrysler? Are you sure that's the outcome you're looking for?

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14. Josh on September 25, 2008 6:53 PM writes...

Our screening and probe development group is hiring. Go here and search keyword MLPCN. There are 7 listings right now, and that doesn't include two more for my group that will come up next week. There's are synthetic postdoc positions related to this project, but that's probably not of interest to people with prior industry experience.

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15. The Light on September 25, 2008 11:54 PM writes...

The Indian and Chinese R&D managers are firing all Americans and selectively replacing them with their own national or caste groups.

This is not 2008, it's 1808. Racism and cheap labor politics are all that matters.

If you hire Indians or Chinese, they will attempt to destroy all Americans.


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16. Ram on September 26, 2008 12:19 AM writes...

I donot agree Indians hiring Indians??

You joking or what? I am yet to see one example where Indians hire Indian.

I wish Indians had some kind of unity?

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17. Nick K on September 26, 2008 6:06 AM writes...

Strange to say, there's no sign of the turmoil on the company's website....

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18. Ty on September 26, 2008 8:48 AM writes...

'MBA revolution' ha ha, good one.

MBA is by far the worst creation of capitalism. Money was meant to be a measure of value. Now, in this MBA era, money itself became the value. These people talk about saving (or making more) money, while destroying the real value.

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19. MTK on September 26, 2008 9:01 AM writes...

Indian and Chinese R&D managers? Oh yeah, those guys are all over the place in Big Pharma(note sarcasm).

I worked in a department of about 60 chemists where about a third were Chinese. Of the 6 managers, not one was Chinese. There was a Korean, does that count? Those people have a tendency to stick together you know. (more sarcasm)

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20. Anon Chemist on September 26, 2008 9:39 AM writes...

"You joking or what? I am yet to see one example where Indians hire Indian."

yeah right. trying getting a job at a generics firm in NJ if you're not Indian.

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21. emjeff on September 26, 2008 12:27 PM writes...

Here at GSK, preclinical will hear on Tuesday who stays and who goes. The prediction is upwards of 50% will lose their jobs....

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22. ab on September 26, 2008 12:43 PM writes...

There is a medium-sized pharmaceutical company in NJ where 70% of the employees are Chinese (Almost all of them are native-born Chinese.)!!!

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23. XFZ on September 26, 2008 12:57 PM writes...

There are right reasons for that company hires 70% Chinese. I don't think CEO and department VPs are as stupid as you thought.

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24. processchemist on September 26, 2008 1:24 PM writes...


Tell us about the reasons, please. I find this topic relly interesting.

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25. Zhan Wen on September 26, 2008 2:22 PM writes...

#24, One thing I can think of is many people cannot even spell "really" correctly. Just kidding.

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26. GSK lay-offs on Tuesday on September 26, 2008 4:36 PM writes...

It's official: GSK will announce lay-offs in Preclinical Development on Tuesday at 3PM UK/10AM US. The memo went out this morning.

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27. drug_hunter on September 26, 2008 9:33 PM writes...

I've also heard rumors that just this week there were some nasty layoffs at BI in Connecticut - can anyone confirm this??

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28. processchemist on September 27, 2008 2:03 AM writes...


Ok for jokes about mistyped words, but my question was not ironic (by the way, I don't live or work in the USA).

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29. elvira on September 27, 2008 9:14 AM writes...

GSK is going to announce big cuts in preclinical development next week. Oncology will learn their fate next week as well. The word is that headcount in chemistry will go from 110 to 70 ( though no management jobs will be lost-too valuable I guess!). Big cuts in RTP as well.

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30. goldenrod on September 27, 2008 9:50 AM writes...

Yes 5% of research at BI got binned, for "performance/business" reasons

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31. S Silverstein on September 29, 2008 10:03 PM writes...

Tell me, honestly. Can truly effective R&D go on in "employees as cannon fodder" environments such as these?

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32. milkshake on September 30, 2008 4:37 AM writes...

No - but it does not matter as long as shareholders are willing to swallow yet another merger. Pfizer will be the biggest company - bigger even than Enron

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33. Ex GSK on September 30, 2008 12:19 PM writes...

Up to 600 to go from pre-clinical.

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