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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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January 16, 2009

With A Straight Face, Yet

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Posted by Derek

Well, the researchers at Pfizer have apparently been told that the latest round of layoffs are it, but I get the impression that this reassurance isn’t necessarily widely believed. People there (and at other companies) have been told that everything is rightsized and on track before the ax comes around again. I certainly hope that this time it’s true.

But the sales force doesn’t look to be as lucky, since the latest report is that up to one third of the sales reps might be laid off. That’s always been a volatile part of any company, with a lot of turnover, but man, that’s a lot of turnover. It puts the 8% cut in research into some perspective, but what a nasty perspective it is.

And in the research labs – well, I know that executives are supposed to say these sorts of things. And I know that if you don’t, they’ll find someone who will. But I still have to pass on this quote from Pfizer’s head of research, Martin MacKay, which as far as I can tell was delivered with no grimaces or coughing fits:

"“We haven’t taken any hit on productivity. We haven’t missed any milestones,” MacKay said. “We are keeping the organization fully focused on the work we have to do.”

Comments (18) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business and Markets


COMMENTS

1. You're Pfizered on January 16, 2009 10:07 AM writes...

Any word on the type of severance package the Pfizer folks got? Did they at least get taken care of, if you can call losing your job in the worst economy since the Great Depression, 'taken care of'.

Permalink to Comment

2. Don B. on January 16, 2009 10:17 AM writes...

Pfizer said in November/December that they were keeping the Severance Package Intact for 2009.

I believe that reflects a posting by milkshake that some of the 'pfired" had sued successfully to get their severence.

Now that the "edifice' in un-productive Groton has cracked, everyone has to be looking over their shoulders.

McKay fits right in, he should be in HR or PR.

Permalink to Comment

3. Mark on January 16, 2009 10:25 AM writes...

With everything going on -- I'm doubtful that the latest lay-offs will be the last.

Permalink to Comment

4. Hap on January 16, 2009 11:01 AM writes...

The above statement ("We haven't taken any hit on productivity...") sounds too much like the statements by Genentech that the attempted byout by Roche hasn't affected them. Yeah, sure...if they've increased the dosage of antidepressants in the water coolers by 50% or so, or if you've given the managers whips and authority to choose the laid-off ones. The latter works for a while, but when it backfires, it probably does so very badly.

Permalink to Comment

5. RB Woodweird on January 16, 2009 1:51 PM writes...

"We haven’t taken any hit on productivity."

So you were a lousy manager for keeping those 8% nonproductive chemists on the payroll? Or are the remaining chemists just working smarter and not harder?

Permalink to Comment

6. Indy on January 16, 2009 2:10 PM writes...

Boy, what I great way to dance about the main question any employee mush have which is "how is all of this going to affect ME?"

Such speech is for politicians and, in this case, upper management. NOT FOR R&D EMPLOYEES!

In short, great quote, wrong audience.

Permalink to Comment

7. pete on January 16, 2009 4:17 PM writes...

Clearly, Pfizer R&D is now well positioned to maximally leverage its vertically integrated organizational synergies toward low-hanging fruitcake.

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8. Hap on January 16, 2009 4:38 PM writes...

Mmmm...fruitcake.

Or is that their intended customer base? I'm sure there are some, but hanging your profit hopes on people with change cups or boards covered in bead necklaces is not the way most companies pursue profitability.

Permalink to Comment

9. Hap on January 16, 2009 4:40 PM writes...

Mmmm...fruitcake.

Or is that their intended customer base? I'm sure there are some, but hanging your profit hopes on people with change cups or boards covered in bead necklaces is not the way most companies pursue profitability.

Permalink to Comment

10. Toluene on January 16, 2009 4:57 PM writes...

As my last CEO said....

"There are no more planned layoffs."

Made me feel real secure

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11. Sili on January 16, 2009 5:54 PM writes...

Ah, but how many bosses are let go? And how big a paycut did the CEO take? Did he - or anyone else in management - give up their bonusses?

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12. Dr. Manhattan on January 17, 2009 12:31 AM writes...

...this quote from Pfizer’s head of research, Martin MacKay, which as far as I can tell was delivered with no grimaces or coughing fits:

"“We haven’t taken any hit on productivity. We haven’t missed any milestones,” MacKay said. “We are keeping the organization fully focused on the work we have to do.”

Ahh, vintage MacKay! I'm sure he was "Enormously pleased" to say that. One former colleague described the atmosphere in Groton as that of a funeral. Among senior chemists, the inventor of Geodon and the co-inventor of Zyvox were cut. Once could well inquire as to what the current leader of Pfizer Discovery Research has ever accomplished. Perhaps Drs. Ausiello and Brown of the Board might want to look into that question.

Permalink to Comment

13. RTW on January 17, 2009 12:21 PM writes...

12.Dr Manhattan,

As where the inventors of Lipitor let go when the Ann Arbor facility was shuttered.

Permalink to Comment

14. Dr. Mahahattan on January 17, 2009 3:36 PM writes...

"12.Dr Manhattan,

As where the inventors of Lipitor let go when the Ann Arbor facility was shuttered"

Yes, I know. Bruce R. et al. Just tallying up the latest in a long line of contributors who became victims of Pfizer's managerial incompetance. Those who cannot manage to either develop drugs or effectively direct research living off the profits of many talented & hard working contributors.

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15. Anonymous BMS Researcher on January 17, 2009 3:41 PM writes...


I guess this system will be getting more usage (see page 6 of the PDF):
http://www.bisource.com/BI_Source_Brochure.pdf

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16. Anonymous BIG Pharma Researcher on January 17, 2009 3:46 PM writes...

"Let them eat lean sigma cake"

Permalink to Comment

17. MolecularGeek on January 18, 2009 11:30 AM writes...

Toluene said (quoting anonymous executives):

"There are no more planned layoffs."

I, for one, am glad to see that senior management at Pfizer is finally admitting that these "workforce rightsizings" will be accomplished by the moral equivalent of darts at the payroll printouts.

Any chance of getting them to admit that there was little rational thought going into all the previous ones?

MG

Permalink to Comment

18. medical practice software on January 18, 2009 10:07 PM writes...

This is an old technique that was used over and over. The layoffs will happen but they will never say "Yea, some of you will be let go".
The fun part is that the people who are actually responsible for the mis-management of the company will stay and get millions of $$$ when they leave. The real contributors always pay the price.

Permalink to Comment

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