Corante

About this Author
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

Chemistry and Drug Data: Drugbank
Emolecules
ChemSpider
Chempedia Lab
Synthetic Pages
Organic Chemistry Portal
PubChem
Not Voodoo
DailyMed
Druglib
Clinicaltrials.gov

Chemistry and Pharma Blogs:
Org Prep Daily
The Haystack
Kilomentor
A New Merck, Reviewed
Liberal Arts Chemistry
Electron Pusher
All Things Metathesis
C&E News Blogs
Chemiotics II
Chemical Space
Noel O'Blog
In Vivo Blog
Terra Sigilatta
BBSRC/Douglas Kell
ChemBark
Realizations in Biostatistics
Chemjobber
Pharmalot
ChemSpider Blog
Pharmagossip
Med-Chemist
Organic Chem - Education & Industry
Pharma Strategy Blog
No Name No Slogan
Practical Fragments
SimBioSys
The Curious Wavefunction
Natural Product Man
Fragment Literature
Chemistry World Blog
Synthetic Nature
Chemistry Blog
Synthesizing Ideas
Business|Bytes|Genes|Molecules
Eye on FDA
Chemical Forums
Depth-First
Symyx Blog
Sceptical Chymist
Lamentations on Chemistry
Computational Organic Chemistry
Mining Drugs
Henry Rzepa


Science Blogs and News:
Bad Science
The Loom
Uncertain Principles
Fierce Biotech
Blogs for Industry
Omics! Omics!
Young Female Scientist
Notional Slurry
Nobel Intent
SciTech Daily
Science Blog
FuturePundit
Aetiology
Gene Expression (I)
Gene Expression (II)
Sciencebase
Pharyngula
Adventures in Ethics and Science
Transterrestrial Musings
Slashdot Science
Cosmic Variance
Biology News Net


Medical Blogs
DB's Medical Rants
Science-Based Medicine
GruntDoc
Respectful Insolence
Diabetes Mine


Economics and Business
Marginal Revolution
The Volokh Conspiracy
Knowledge Problem


Politics / Current Events
Virginia Postrel
Instapundit
Belmont Club
Mickey Kaus


Belles Lettres
Uncouth Reflections
Arts and Letters Daily
In the Pipeline: Don't miss Derek Lowe's excellent commentary on drug discovery and the pharma industry in general at In the Pipeline

In the Pipeline

« Fan Mail | Main | Lilly's Latest Loses (This Time) »

March 27, 2009

Layoffs At Merck

Email This Entry

Posted by Derek

I’ve been hearing for a little while about impending layoffs at Merck. I decided, though, that this isn’t the environment to be putting up posts about rumors of job cuts – everyone’s jumpy enough already. But unfortunately, they aren’t rumors any more.

What I’m hearing about, in person and via e-mail, is what sounds like across the board R&D shrinkage For what it’s worth, the damage seems heavier (on a percentage basis) at West Point and in Montreal, but I haven’t heard of any R&D area yet that’s completely missed out. More details are welcome from those closer to the sites affected.

You’d have to think that these cuts have been in the works for a while, but that the Merck/Schering-Plough merger is what’s turned them into reality right now. Still, that’s a bit unusual – most of the time, with these mergers, the job cuts come from the new organization after the merger goes through. With one partner in the deal swinging the ax before that even happens, you wonder what’s going to go on once the two companies merge. Fewer cuts overall than people were estimating (or fewer on the Schering-Plough end? That would be a switch.) Or is this just a head start on something that needed deeper cuts for it to make any financial sense at all?

Either way, if anyone out there knows of some organizations that are in a hiring mood, please feel free to post those details in the comments section. One thing’s for sure – anyone who is trying to fill positions these days will see some good candidates.

Comments (178) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business and Markets | Current Events


COMMENTS

1. InfMP on March 27, 2009 7:44 AM writes...

Were the layoffs in canada solely PhD level people? That's what I heard.

Permalink to Comment

2. milkshake on March 27, 2009 8:42 AM writes...

My boss just came back from the conference - its layoffs everywhere and no-one is hiring. Synthetic chemists from good groups go on a second postdoc etc. But there is a light at the end of tunnel from the incoming train.

Permalink to Comment

3. Ty on March 27, 2009 8:47 AM writes...

The layoff had been in the work prior to the merger, or so I heard. As far as chemists are concerned, the manager level was cleaned out last year and, this time, most non-managerial, expensive (experienced) PhDs were let go. Rumour has it that post-merger bloodbath will happen separately, maybe in a year...

Permalink to Comment

4. anon on March 27, 2009 8:52 AM writes...

Genentech (Roche) still has open RA and scientist positions.

Permalink to Comment

5. Petros on March 27, 2009 9:01 AM writes...

Well the European-based ex Organon people are worried, they are in the dark 1 year on from having survived their first merger!

Permalink to Comment

6. Ed on March 27, 2009 9:04 AM writes...

Merck are closing their Rome site too I think.

Permalink to Comment

7. Ken Wang on March 27, 2009 9:28 AM writes...

HST is seeking people having experience with SPME/GC/MS

Permalink to Comment

8. Ken Wang on March 27, 2009 9:29 AM writes...

HST is seeking people having experience with SPME/GC/MS

Permalink to Comment

9. Don B. on March 27, 2009 10:14 AM writes...

Please don't call these "layoffs". These people are being "fired" usually through no fault of their own.

I would expect the Schering people to be pfizerized. See what happened to the last people hassan "sold out"

Hard times will pass, I think!

Permalink to Comment

10. E on March 27, 2009 10:35 AM writes...

Most of the job cuts at west point were among upper-level associates, ie people without phds who had been there 5+ years. Some people were offered positions at Merck Boston and some have been invited to reapply at WP for a lower-level position. Several phds were also let go as well as a few people on the bottom. This seriously brings into question the role of non-phds in such situations. Most of the people let go fell victim to their own success as they had promoted to the point that their salaries were apparently not worth their contribution. This is a seriously backhanded move by the management who did the promoting in the firstplace.

Permalink to Comment

11. sjb on March 27, 2009 11:18 AM writes...

So the latest advert for Merck recruitment on the ACS webpage is nothing but a sham?

Permalink to Comment

12. Chemjobber on March 27, 2009 11:44 AM writes...

Merck has had that ad up for months. I'll bet they're just fishing.

Permalink to Comment

13. MTK on March 27, 2009 12:35 PM writes...

In April 2008 Schering announced 5500 layoffs over the next three years. They we In October 2008 Merck announced 7200 layoffs through 2011.

So the current job cuts really are not the result of the merger, since they were going to happen anyway.

The real question is how many of the 12,700 announced pre-merger are among those being counted post-merger. I'm guessing a fair share since the the companies would like to point to as much cost savings as possible due to the merger, even though they were going to cut them anyway.

Permalink to Comment

14. Robert on March 27, 2009 12:43 PM writes...

These layoffs are just another round of outsourcing to pad the executive's pockets. IBM (a highly profitable company) just fired 5000 US citizens to replace them with Indians. Think about that, they're not down and out, just attempting to maximize gain at any cost.


Look at Bristol Meyers. New jobs in Bangalore!

www.biospace.com/news_story.aspx?NewsEntityId=132087

and their executives got pay raises!!

www.tinyurl.com/dza562

Permalink to Comment

15. Thomas McEntee on March 27, 2009 1:27 PM writes...

The 2nd URL in Derek's piece yesterday ("Fan Mail") on Freeman Dyson points to a site with excerpts from Dyson's 2007 book...here's the next-to-last paragraph in section 4:

"I am telling the next generation of young students, who will still be alive in the second half of our century, that misfortunes are on the way. Their precious Ph.D., or whichever degree they went through long years of hard work to acquire, may be worth less than they think. Their specialized training may become obsolete. They may find themselves over-qualified for the available jobs. They may be declared redundant. The country and the culture to which they belong may move far away from the mainstream. But these misfortunes are also opportunities. It is always open to them to join the heretics and find another way to make a living. With or without a Ph.D., there are big and important problems for them to solve."

Permalink to Comment

16. anon on March 27, 2009 1:27 PM writes...

"IBM (a highly profitable company) just fired 5000 US citizens to replace them with Indians."

This, in spite of decades of evidence that out-sourcing IT just mean quality goes to crap.

Permalink to Comment

17. Sili on March 27, 2009 2:21 PM writes...

Forgive me to stoking the rumour fire, but seem to recall reading recently that Danish pharma claims to be relatively untouched by the Crisis. Even to the point of hiring ...

I know it's not a feasible opportunity for most, but for those desperate it might be worth looking at Novo Nordisk, Novozymes, Leo Pharma and Lundbeck. There may well be others ... I'm not as 'into' the job market as I really ought to be in my current circumstances.

Permalink to Comment

18. DMGross on March 27, 2009 2:23 PM writes...

Merck also eliminated 178 positions in their facilties groups by shedding the jobs to an outsourcing firm that will now run their facilities for them at sites like Boston and WP. From one standpoint it is a positive as the jobs stay here and it does afford load-leveling, i.e., when you need temporary support for a specific task, the outsourcing firm can provide short-term help to solve a problem and then your headcount returns to normal.

Permalink to Comment

19. Lucifer on March 27, 2009 2:24 PM writes...

I hate to say this, but I cannot feel any sympathy for them.

Having met quite a few of these 'big pharma' people at conferences (esp. Merck and BMS), I have to say that their level of arrogance, conceit, lack of innovation and belief in the totality of their knowledge (hubris) alternately amused me and horrified me.

Unless you have been involved in discovering a novel molecule that showed any decent therapeutic activity in a Phase II trials (toxicity notwithstanding) please stop acting like you know it all. I am happy to hear from people who have even one decent novel phase II molecule to their name even if its activity was no better than an existing class of drugs or it had unexpected toxicity. In my opinion, that is is what entitles you to opine on the field, unless you are promoting the safety of vioxx after large clinical trials demonstrated a 3-4 fold increase in death from all causes in the elderly.

However, if you reached your fancy sounding position through an ivy league university, pedigree, BS, intrigue and have spent the last 10 years working on developing the marginally better isomer of an existing compound.. please shut up.

Permalink to Comment

20. XFZ on March 27, 2009 3:49 PM writes...

A few of my friends got Merck offers recently. Are these offers in danger? Should they report to Merck as soon as possible?

Permalink to Comment

21. XFZ on March 27, 2009 3:50 PM writes...

A few of my friends got Merck offers recently. Are these offers in danger? Should they report to Merck as soon as possible?

Permalink to Comment

22. Jose on March 27, 2009 3:54 PM writes...

I can't help but wonder if the ACS's new sexy slogan of "Chemistry for Life" is just sick and twisted irony from the laughing suits that are running the show....

Permalink to Comment

23. Mark on March 27, 2009 4:19 PM writes...

One has to wonder if, and how long from now, recent mergers will affect business at US CRO's (ie Covance, AMRI which have significant contracts)?

any thoughts?

and an related outsider article...

http://www.fool.com/investing/general/2009/03/06/doing-it-for-less-if-you-know-what-i-mean.aspx

Permalink to Comment

24. no name on March 27, 2009 6:47 PM writes...

Merck is still hiring. This was simply a house cleaning move on their part. I know people who have received/accepted offers (with confirmation that they are still good) and people who have been laid off (yesterday to be exact). It truly is unfortunate for the upper level associates.

Permalink to Comment

25. no name on March 27, 2009 6:47 PM writes...

Merck is still hiring. This was simply a house cleaning move on their part. I know people who have received/accepted offers (with confirmation that they are still good) and people who have been laid off (yesterday to be exact). It truly is unfortunate for the upper level associates.

Permalink to Comment

26. Merck Insider on March 27, 2009 7:18 PM writes...

#10 and #13 are correct. The people getting laid off in the Merck Research Labs are people who got tripped up by their own promotions. For the last decade or so, the research division has promoted people pretty freely. A lot of folks ended up with the salary and title of a mid-level manager, but without the impact or number of people under them to justify it. This culling of over-promoted employees (referred to as "delayering") began last fall and for some reason is just now hitting certain areas of research.

Permalink to Comment

27. Anonymous on March 27, 2009 7:34 PM writes...

Merck & Schering people live in the same communities in NJ. There is lots of talk amongst them, especially regarding the layoffs. The general feeling is that Merck people are getting it now, and Schering people will be axed in about a year. The combination seems impossible - the cultures are vastly different - too different to merge as Clark professes they will. While there are plenty of arrogant Merck people, there are plenty of quiet, good scientists there too. Schering people have come out of the consent decree by working very hard in focused teams to deliver a terrific pipeline. Fred really had persuaded the Schering group that the hard work would all pay off in the end, but neglected to say that the pay off was his, not theirs. These are two contrasting pharma houses - one with good solid management and the dedication of the people, and one with coercive management that no bench scientist trusts. One is bleeding good scientists, arrogant and not, for reasons that their management alone knows, and the other is full of shell-shocked zombies, betrayed by their leader.
No vision has emerged on how these two will merge. Not to mention the Organon folk. No vision usually spells disaster. The number of research engines destroyed (Lost Civilizations) in the US is alarming. This lack of diversity and creativity is a disaster not only for scientists and their families, but for the population as a whole, at some point. Where will new drugs come from? Fewer and fewer places...not a good trend.

Permalink to Comment

28. drug_hunter on March 27, 2009 7:55 PM writes...

So, according to the aptly-named Lucifer, only about one chemist in 10 (maybe less) has a right to voice an opinion. Interesting worldview.

And everyone he meets from big pharma is arrogant, conceited, etc. Nice generalization.

I might add that most of the people that I've met who have contributed to a Phase II success still don't know as much as they think they do ... and that probably applies to me too ... and, dare I say, to the devil himself -- who needed bother to apply to my shop when he finds himself on the short end of the stick someday.

Permalink to Comment

29. Mark on March 27, 2009 8:26 PM writes...

Could anyone please point to other places where this topic is currently being discussed online?

Permalink to Comment

30. Lucifer on March 27, 2009 9:50 PM writes...

drug_hunter,

I have been inside that world, and realized the futility of working in it a few years ago. It was, and still is, a MBA/Lawyer/Pedigreed Researcher driven Ponzi Scheme.

Let me put it this way.. I have no reason to be looking for a job in a company. Working with **holes is much more fun than working under them.

Permalink to Comment

31. Fox Mulder on March 27, 2009 9:53 PM writes...

Most of the chemists laid off at Merck, West Point were non-PhDs. The majority were people who devoted their careers to Merck and had been there many years. These are not the arrogant people at meetings, referred to above but hard working BS & MS people whose hard work and loyalty got them stabbed in the back by the company they helped make successful. Merck's upper management should be ashamed of the immoral disservice it has done to its people, customers and our countries economy while it pulls in money hand over foot.

Permalink to Comment

32. Neo on March 27, 2009 11:24 PM writes...

To any pursuing a PhD/MS in chemistry reading this article.

Quit, walk away.

You've been warned. You've got better odds in Vegas at making money (an at least you'll get free booze).

Permalink to Comment

33. LFree on March 28, 2009 12:16 AM writes...

Pfizer in San Diego is hiring much with still lots of openings, but forbid us here to give credit to this smart survivor, in contrast to several non-survivors. (And I still wonder about DL if he was personally research productive in a meaningful way at the company that laid him off to justify his acerbs, consistent with the Lucifer #19 above). Oh yeah, literary style wise, I meant to throw in an "indeed".

Permalink to Comment

34. anon on March 28, 2009 9:37 AM writes...

Neo - Yes, if I had been able to see the future about 10 years ago I would have walked away. It is a little too late for most of us.

All - I have a MS and about 7.5 years of experience. I am at the level below an entry level PhD, where I realistically expect to stay under the current economic situation (and political situation within the group - getting the next promotion really seems to depend on being in the right spot at the right time, and I am probably a little too late to the party). I was exploring other options for awhile, however it seems like alot of the big IP firms have also been laying off (along with everyone else it seems) and getting into alot of debt and not having a job doesn't seem too bright. What is the answer if you are already caught up in this mess? I am hanging in since I am still employed, but am concerned about something like what happened to the Merck people happening to me when I am no longer able to work the long hours, etc. How many 50+ year old MS chemists are still around? Even mid-late 40's? Think about it.

Permalink to Comment

35. MTK on March 28, 2009 10:37 AM writes...

Drughunter,

I'm glad you called out Lucifer. I was going to do the same, but halfway through my comment decided it wasn't appropriate.

Lucifer,

I have an inclining that you're fun to work with.

Permalink to Comment

36. Anonymous on March 28, 2009 11:40 AM writes...

So is the moral of this story that I, as an MS chemist, can have better job security if I stop working so hard and not get promoted as much? Or is it that the lower-performing older BS/MS folks had already been pushed out, and now they are getting rid of the higher-performing ones?

I don't know anything about the legal aspects of these things, but, if these are older folks who are still high-performers, how can they justify laying them off? Depending on the scale of these layoffs, if it was a small percentage of the department and if they were all in a similar demographic, could they sue for age discrimination, or are things so murky that you can't really get away with that sort of suit?

Permalink to Comment

37. anon2 on March 28, 2009 12:48 PM writes...

A few facts from the inside:

1. These layoffs are part of a total reorganization of basic
research, all levels from entry level B.A./B.S. to 20+ years
Ph.D. This has been planned for a long time and has nothing to
do with the Schering merger, although it "prepares a more
efficient structure". Expect a further re-org during/after the
merger.

2. Mean layoff of 20%, but variances are wide. West Point (PA)
chemistry is particularly hard-hit, especially at the higher pay
grades. Unlike what some others have said, both non-Ph.D. and
Ph.D.s are heavily hit. In short, there are a smaller number of
upper-level scientific positions in the new organization (and
more lower-level ones). The employee assessment process, which
determines what if any role one is assigned in the new structure,
is opaque. This has not been handled well.

3. However, there is some continual hiring and reshuffling to
fill opening positions. Some of these will be lower-level, some
are to build new areas, part of the usual hiring process that
always goes on. Long-term, the expectation is to build back to
similar numbers in basic research. Although the distribution may
be very different (grade level, speciality). So I think the job
ads are real.

Some previous posters have said that these folks
were "over-promoted". I think this belief comes from the desire
to find some rationale as to why "we" won't get fired.

Although there are some limited cases of over-promotion, I don't
believe it's true in general at Merck. Instead, I see a lot of
excellent colleagues with significant experience being let go.
Senior management is gambling that they can hire proportionally
more entry-level or outsourced resource with the same or fewer
dollars.

Permalink to Comment

38. Lucifer on March 28, 2009 1:05 PM writes...

MTK,

I have higher standards of ethics than the majority of middle and senior management.

Permalink to Comment

39. GAR on March 28, 2009 2:37 PM writes...

Used to work for Merck. In fact I worked there for 9 years. The first five years were great, then after the Vioxx withdraw its been layoff city, constantly looking behind your back, not knowing if the Turk was coming or not. I left there, starting working for a small company where I am not a number and things are great

I will say this, when I first was hired at Merck I could not believe the way the wasted money, I couldn't believe how heavy every single department was in labor.

Permalink to Comment

40. Fox Mulder on March 28, 2009 5:48 PM writes...

77% of the recent chemistry layoffs at West Point were non PhD's, most with many years working for Merck. The average age of all the chemist just let go is 41 years. Twentyeight (28) of these people are 40 or older. Of non PhDs in the top 2 grade levels (these are the people who have been at Merck for years and dedicated their careers to the company) 78% of them are now unemployed. There is no moral way to justify this. It should be illegal.

Permalink to Comment

41. BeenthereDoneThat on March 28, 2009 6:47 PM writes...

I sympathise with your views Fox, but what about the indiscriminate loss of jobs that comes with a total site closure? Surely that is even more immoral? Basically, Merck is one sick old dog and the senior management are responsible for this. They are the ones who should pay the price but we all know they won't.

Permalink to Comment

42. anonymous on March 28, 2009 7:10 PM writes...

Merck Basic Research just laid off 20% of its employees, which was not planned. I guess that this is to make room for schering plough colleagues to make up the new Merck, which means 20% of basic research staff will be placed in the new queendom of Kathleen Metters, the queen of MRL basic research. She may keep a few more just to show the promise of placing the majority of SP employees is kept. However, she is planning BRGOS 2, in which she may eliminate all the SP employees or ask them to relocate to Canada!!

Who were laid off this time?

1. People who are in their late 40s or 50s and have been with the company for >10 years plus one of these:

* lack leadership, which means strong scientists and solid performers but do not b***s**t
* speak up
* do not kiss asses

2. Pattern breakers - random picks of young scientists who have been with the company for 5 years or fewer

Permalink to Comment

43. Just laid off from Merck Basic Research on March 28, 2009 7:37 PM writes...

Merck Frosst in Canada just laid off 38. About 20% of the basic research.

Majority of them older employees with >10 years of service (75%). A rough estimate

The chance of getting laid off if you are >45 and has been with the company for >10 was >60%

The chance of getting laid off if you are Chinese in the biology department (in vitro and in vivo) was greater than 80%

The chance for young employees of being picked randomly as pattern breakers was 5%

Permalink to Comment

44. anony on March 28, 2009 7:58 PM writes...

Sounds like age discrimination but delibrately covered up by throwing in a few younger employees

Permalink to Comment

45. legal aid? on March 28, 2009 8:00 PM writes...

Any one knows a good labor lawyer?

Permalink to Comment

46. xfz on March 28, 2009 8:41 PM writes...

As a scientist in this field, reading these comments is very depressing. For many years, Merck is known for its good quality of science, yet it's the scientists are paying the price of failure of its management. I am wondering what is the percentage of its middle- and top-management will let go? Any info from insiders?

Permalink to Comment

47. Anonymous on March 28, 2009 9:02 PM writes...

#41, BeenthereDoneThat said "but what about the indiscriminate loss of jobs that comes with a total site closure? Surely that is even more immoral?"

I think both scenarios are terrible, but I think the current situation is the worse of the two. While site closures are bad, they may, sometimes, really be necessary. At least there are usually other places to go for a job. If there is across the board discrimination on the basis of age, then there really isn't anywhere to go. I'm in my early 30's and these sorts of things make me very depressed about the long-term prospects of my career. I enjoy medicinal chemistry, think I am reasonably good at it, and want to do it until I retire. If I stick at it for another 10-20 years and then get thrown out on the street, I really have no idea what I'll do. I think it would be much harder to move into a different profession at that stage in my life. But I don't want to try to move into a new profession now because I have a good job that I enjoy and the opportunity costs for re-training are very high. Maybe the job situation will improve in the future, but I doubt it. I really don't like gambling on my future. I feel for the people who are in this situation now.

Permalink to Comment

48. Hap on March 28, 2009 9:03 PM writes...

Someone in Merck has to realize that their plan sounds a lot like Circuit City's plan of getting rid of their higher-paid sales associates. In that case, there was no reason to work there if you were good (because you'd either not get paid what you were worth or get fired when you reached the pay level of your worth) and no reason to leave if you didn't (because you'd never have to worry about reaching the level where you would get fired). Whether it "helped" their financial situation (into bankruptcy) or was simply a desperate stupid move to cut costs because of deep financial trouble, the similarity might reflect poorly on Merck's future, and the drug industry's as well (since this appears to be their model for anything other than management positions).

The problem with management (and why the bonuses thing almost went through) is because upper management never seems to pay the price for their bad acts - they profit from them. Those who depend on their leadership are the only ones to pay. If success is rewarded just as well as failure, then the qualities and background of management are irrelevant, and the risk they assume nonexistent, and then one can legitimately ask why they are paid so highly and with so little dependence on the outcomes of their leadership. If you don't listen to the stockholders (who pay you and allegedly run the show) nor to the government (who just bailed out your pathetic butts), then you seem to be immune from any constructive control - stockholders could sell out, cash their losses, and hope that the resultant thermite reaction incinerates management, but they would not financially survive for long thereafter. This might be a problem.

Permalink to Comment

49. Fox Mulder on March 28, 2009 9:18 PM writes...

In West Point Med Chem, if you remove the directors from the equation (as you should for this job action), it's closer to 30% of the department let go. I agree with you "Beenthere" that it's the upper management that should pay for their inability to identify and fix a problem that has been growing for years and belongs solely to them.

Just dont believe any notion that Merck was anywhere close to closing their doors. It's still a wealthy, profitable company. Getting rid of loyal, experienced chemists should sound a clear warning to all. Don't plan on having a long career there with any degree of job security, no matter what you do for them. Good work leads to advancement which leads to higher pay which leads to the door. After they have gotten some of your best years and you finally make enough money to keep your head above water, it can all go away overnight under the crushing weight of corperate greed. What I don't understand is why would anyone want to work there after this...I guess working for a sleezy company is better then not working at all...for some of us.

Permalink to Comment

50. PK on March 28, 2009 10:02 PM writes...

I agree that it is the MRL management (Peter Kim and Kathleen Metters) that should have been fired or replaced. For the first few years after Kim took office he blamed the previous MRL management for all the problems and took credit for all the new drugs, which was mostly developed under the leadership of the previous management. All they have done since they became the leaders of MRL are leadership, transformation compaigns and letting some of the best scientists go. Now the morale is extremely low throughout the labs. Science is not the focus anymore. Everything is about process and micromanagement. Worse, Kathleen Metters installed her cronies in keep positions and suppresses speaking out. Merck will be in deeper trouble if they do not get rid of these two and their cronies.

Permalink to Comment

51. Anonymous on March 28, 2009 10:22 PM writes...

People at Merck Boston be warned of those guys recently or about to be relocated to their site from Merck Frosst. Those are all Kathleen Metters'cronies. They are relocated there to bring "leadership"to the site at all levels. They are notorious for what they did at Merck Frosst, for example, assessing people based on perceptions and penalizing people who spoke out and had different opinions in the name of leadership.

Permalink to Comment

52. Witty Brit on March 29, 2009 2:54 AM writes...

"Pfizer in San Diego is hiring much with still lots of openings"

Who wants to hop on board the Titanic?

Permalink to Comment

53. Anonymous BMS Researcher on March 29, 2009 6:17 AM writes...

A bunch of my colleagues at BMS got laid off in December; here is our Drug Discovery head honcho at the opening of a major expansion in India (where the new headcount roughly equals the US layoffs in December):

http://www.businesswireindia.com/attachments/Pic%202(12).JPG

Permalink to Comment

54. Anonymous on March 29, 2009 10:09 AM writes...

Merck has freed up many positions for slave bench scientists (both chemistry and biology) with minimum pay, no expectation to be promoted (except those who would give their daughters Kathleen as middle names) and ready to get fired after 10 years.

Permalink to Comment

55. LFree on March 29, 2009 12:58 PM writes...

Witty Brit #53: The answer is those that already sank or are sinking fast on their proven Titanics (BMS, GSK, Wyeth, Schering Plough, Merck, Synta, too numerous smaller biotechs to name, etc). PFE is nimble enough to provide rescue - remains #1. We'll see about the future, but as of 2009.

Permalink to Comment

56. Anonymous on March 29, 2009 1:38 PM writes...

The congress and government should pass a law to make sure that the executives wont make any benefit or take any bonuses during a major merger/layoffs. As for the bonuses, they should not take any bonuses if their companies lays off more than 1% of their workforce the same year or for 2 to 5 years if the layoffs are more than 10%.

Permalink to Comment

57. Retread on March 29, 2009 1:40 PM writes...

Very sad to read about all the layoffs in the industry. As an MD, I look back and think of how much better off my patents in the 60s 70s 80s and 90s would have been if we had the drugs then that we have now. The drug you will need on the day you all die will not have been discovered (and/or released by the FDA for general use).

Permalink to Comment

58. Anonymous on March 29, 2009 1:42 PM writes...

Post 52. I heard the same thing about those guys from Merck Frosst. They were relocated there because they completely ruined the morale at Merck Frosst.

Permalink to Comment

59. BMS1 on March 29, 2009 6:32 PM writes...

I know of two positions currently open at BMS for associate chemists. Search the BMS career website for job requisition numbers 27536 (Princeton, NJ) and 27537 (Wallingford, CT).

Permalink to Comment

60. mrk1 on March 29, 2009 7:38 PM writes...

Does anyone hear a thing about Merck and Schering-Plough layoff after merge, which side will be more significantly affected??

Permalink to Comment

61. Anonymous on March 29, 2009 9:12 PM writes...

MRK1. No news yet but I would guess that Merck would eliminate the whole Schering Plough site and move a few people to different Merck sites, most to Boston. The reasoning is that it would not make sense to keep two big Merck research sites so close to each other in NJ. Alternatively, they could keep the Schring site but shut down research in Montreal. In either case, more substantial job cut to create synergy. Hope that they will let go of Peter Kim and Kathleen Metters/

Permalink to Comment

62. Anonymous on March 29, 2009 9:22 PM writes...

BMS1: Are those positions in dire need - or are things improving at BMS? My friend told me that all of BMS is in a freeze which he expected to last all of 2009.....

Permalink to Comment

63. chinabonding on March 29, 2009 9:55 PM writes...

We are looking for experienced Med-Chem people, and also Biology leads - oncology, metabolic, CNS and cardiovascular, if you are willing to come to China, send me a resume!

The sooner, the better.

Permalink to Comment

64. Trinity on March 29, 2009 11:43 PM writes...

The reason the execs have the chemists in the palm of their hand is that you guys believe in rules (find me one true chemist who doesn't) but fail to realize that there exists a rule which dictates whether you have a job or not.

Drum roll please...

It's called scarcity. You expect a living and a salary because you've acquired traditionally scarce skills. Not so anymore. You are about as sought after as janitors. The H1, L-1, O-1, F-1 visas have turned you into slaves of the global market. Execs know this, computer programmers and engineers sure know this, but chemists seem stunned like deer in the headlights of an oncoming Zamboni.

My analysis is that Americans have turned into amazing wussies. The French are fighting in the streets over their jobs, while the US chemist sits quietly in his nerdy digs, waiting for the End.

You guys seriously need to realize what the rules of the game are and PLAY for keeps. The execs sure are.


Permalink to Comment

65. milkshake on March 30, 2009 3:39 AM writes...

Unions and strikes are hardly whats needed. French are a rather grumpy nation overall, and their industry has not really been a powerhouse for a long time. Besides pharma research staff can go on strike and the company profits will not be affected for years.

But I would like to see more naming and shaming the top pharma executives who presided over this disaster while rewarding themselves obscenely.
For example when Pfizer bought Pharmacia, Pfizer stock traded well above $30 a share. Since then they managed to run tremendous shareholders value into the ground. I would love to see the annual income of all top execs in publicly-traded companies published. I would also love to see a law that would cap the executive salaries, bonuses and stock options as a fixed multiple - for example one hundred fold - of the lowest-paid employee of the company. It the mail clerks or storage-room dudes at the company make 25,000 a year, the CEO should not make more than two and half million a year.


Permalink to Comment

66. Anonymous on March 30, 2009 7:48 AM writes...

Many opennings at BSc and MSc level at Merck Research Laboratories. Please apply now!

Permalink to Comment

67. Beentheredonethat on March 30, 2009 8:32 AM writes...

And expect a 4-10 year career until you get better at your job, get promoted and become too expensive.

Permalink to Comment

68. milkshake on March 30, 2009 9:13 AM writes...

Merck or Pfizer or communist China: I would not work there - the reasons are pretty much the same. We have a number of ex-Merck and ex-Pfizer people here in medchem, mostly PhDs, and they are rather ambivalent about their former employer. "They treat you like mushrooms - the keep you in dark and feed you shit" is the common sentiment.

Permalink to Comment

69. processchemist on March 30, 2009 10:58 AM writes...

"It the mail clerks or storage-room dudes at the company make 25,000 a year, the CEO should not make more than two and half million a year."

Maybe it's still to much... I was wondering: why the overpaid pharma executives, in the last years, don't usually grow up new companies, when they leave? I mean, they should be well connected and deeply aware of the nature of the pharma business...
Alternetively, if they are more financial oriented (it's exactly the case for most of them, I suppose) why they don't start Private Equity Firms or VC?
Maybe they're good only at risking shareholders money, and they would never risk their own in this business?

Permalink to Comment

70. John on March 30, 2009 11:25 AM writes...

"Unions and strikes are hardly whats needed."

Say it over and over to yourself, click your heals three times and zap! You too can become a manager.

Don't worry Mr. Milk, it's your right to break the picket lines.

Permalink to Comment

71. Jose on March 30, 2009 11:37 AM writes...

And striking will accomplish exactly what? Let's see- laughter from upper level management, and instantaneous long term work contracts for all the CROs in China, India, and Eastern Europe, followed by a complete evaporation of the entire industry in the US. That's brilliant!

Permalink to Comment

72. Hap on March 30, 2009 11:46 AM writes...

Well, unions have done wonders for the car industry. I'm sure they could achieve the same success (for workers and employers alike) in pharmaceuticals, except that pharma is already outsourcing anyone who makes any money other than upper management (whose contributions simply cannot be equalled anywhere else (snicker)).

I'm sure you can explain how unionization works to increase worker pay and security in an industry outsourcing (to small companies and overseas) as fast as it can. All unionization would seem to do in that case (in the absence of massive regulation to prevent companies from outsourcing, which is...unlikely, or some enhancement of unions of the drug-development process, which is inconsistent with their contributions to other industries) is to accelerate the rate of outsourcing, which will be beneficial for chemists...in India, Russia and China, and maybe eventually Vietnam and Thailand.

Your concern is noted and stupid.

Permalink to Comment

73. milkshake on March 30, 2009 11:48 AM writes...

No, I never wanted to manage anyone. I was even leading a half-joking unionization campaign at my current employer - after they forced us to pay out of pocket for the campus parking and this continued over four years (with no other parking available within the walking distance - while we were getting the harassment tickets by the university parking maidens all the time).

The problem is that unions are problematic in the assembly line business, and are even less useful in scientific research.

The authority has to be with the PIs, and they need to have a complete control about their projects - and that includes the control over spending, salaries, hiring and firing. No meddlesome HR or middle management should interfere with whats happening inside the group and at the same time all conflicts that exist within the group should stay there - until the most extreme cases when there is other solution that people change groups or get fired. Its a feudal system with plenty of opportunity for the boss abuse - and I happened to be several times on the wrong end of it - but its the only system I know that works. Masters and apprentices. Its based on loyalty, merit and personal responsibility that goes in both directions. Unfortunately the industry exects typically do not understand this and they do not trust scientist to organize themselves so they rely on policies and corporate baloney and snitches to feel more in control

Permalink to Comment

74. Thomas McEntee on March 30, 2009 12:17 PM writes...

Over the past several years, I've seen in this blog alone, pharma layoff numbers that when compared with NSF's statistics on US scientific, engineering, and technical degree holders start looking like very serious trouble. If we're talking x thousand at Pfizer, or y thousand at Merck, etc., what fraction are chemists? Of the chemists, what's the breakout in terms of degree level, years of service? Does ACS report regularly and reliably on this? Maybe what we need is a society that is more of an advocate for the individual chemist and has the clout to say 'Whoa there!' Years ago, in the early 1960s, a chemist I worked with, Ernie Gilmont, was active in a chemist's association that tried to be alternative to the ACS when it came to chemist's rights. I don't think it caught on. Jose (#71) is right WRT unions.

Permalink to Comment

75. John J on March 30, 2009 3:06 PM writes...

"Well, unions have done wonders for the car industry"

The US car industry is suffering because it makes bad cars. Period. Whether it's because of bad design or bad workmanship has no relevance to chemistry or chemists.

It's sad to see most here have no historical knowledge. The only reason workers have safety standards, pay standards,etc is because of unions.
The only reason you think you deserve anything beyond a warm bowl of gruel and wool underwear, is because people have organized.

Since the US govt is NIH, USDA, FDA, etc, I think it can provide sanction against companies that outsource R&D and manufacturing. The manufacture in the USA issue should be a no brainer.

Since the industry is under siege, and no one is safe, you really have NOTHING TO LOSE.

Permalink to Comment

76. Hap on March 30, 2009 4:19 PM writes...

And unions have nothing to do with that? Their members were, after all, the ones making them. Management ought to have a lot to answer for (who designed the cars? and underfunded the pension plans?), but neither management nor the unions were able to cooperate to make cars that didn't suck (or, at minimum, that people would buy).

Unions are responsible for my 40 h week, and the fact that I actually have worker protections, but when they got big, they got corrupt, and when they did so, they didn't help the companies to work for become better, but defended the worst employees, and so helped them get worse. By their nature, they convince the better to go elsewhere (because if doing good earns you nothing, and may hurt you, what's the point?).

Unions worked at things that can't go elsewhere (unless the gov't actively helps by allowing free immigration, who else is going to dig your coal?), which is not true in pharma. People in chemistry (in my experience, and in lots of other fields, I assume) want to get to the top on their own merits, and want to do something substantive to make themselves better and ensure their jobs if that's possible. Since unions help one to do neither of those, they don't make any sense in this case. Just because all you have is a hammer doesn't mean everything is a nail. People are willing to give themselves up, but only for something that actually might work (might assure their jobs, make their country or field stronger, might make the world a better place). Just because you have nothing to lose doesn't make pointless suicide a winning strategy.

Permalink to Comment

77. Anonymous on March 30, 2009 9:02 PM writes...

I think unions work well when you have people with easily quantifiable jobs, like "make x widgets per day." In medicinal chemistry, everybody's job is different, and success is very hard to define and highly dependent on your own effort. I'm not very familiar with how unions work, so I may be wrong, but it has been my impression that they try to treat everyone as equally as possible and make it difficult to differentiate based on merit. Therefore there is no incentive to put in the extra effort and originality that it takes to really be successful in drug discovery. You can be lazy with impunity because the union has your back.

Also, scientists tend to be very independent and self-deterministic, and I don't see a lot of them being willing to blindly listen to union leaders.

Permalink to Comment

78. DCRogers on March 31, 2009 3:50 AM writes...

The real reason for the "benefits" of these layoff is the long time-lag of R&D to product... management get the cost-savings (and bonuses!) immediately, and any problems caused by NOT finding enough drugs happens much, much, later (hopefully, after they're retired, and have sold their stock options).

("Outsourcing" R&D cheaply to India or China is just one variant of this, with a cover for layoff.)

Permalink to Comment

79. Anonymous on March 31, 2009 7:28 AM writes...

78. You are right. No one cares when they are in those senior exec position about pipeline. All they care is how to line up their pocket quickly. Almost all the CEOs are motivated completely by greed. There should be evaluated at the end of every year by a panel of randomly picked employees and independent analysts, not the board of directors. Besides they should not be allowed any bonuses if they lay off employees. It is a shame to collect millions while laying off employees.

Permalink to Comment

80. SRC on March 31, 2009 11:06 AM writes...

Unions? A nineteenth century institution that made it into the 20th, but is deservedly on death watch in the 21st. No thanks.

Permalink to Comment

81. Dan on March 31, 2009 11:58 AM writes...

"Unions? A nineteenth century institution that made it into the 20th, but is deservedly on death watch in the 21st. No thanks."

It's funny how so many of you choose unemployment over unions. You've been brainwashed by the Reagen era movement. What you might realize is that the last year showed everything the right wing media told you about the economics was wrong.

Ask yourself how you've been hurt by unions. Free trade and out of control management, outsourcing,
tech visas. They've all put you one step closer to the unemployment line.

Permalink to Comment

82. Anonymous on March 31, 2009 12:27 PM writes...

I'm thinking about working for Merck. I am an MSc Chemist, I'm reading this and can’t help but feel my stomach turning.

Is this what Merck has become? Everyone has always held the company in such high regard, or is this angry freshly laid off chemists venting.

Should I leave Pharma alone and consider other industries?

Permalink to Comment

83. SRC on March 31, 2009 12:58 PM writes...

Name a unionized company/industry/country that's doing well.

QED.

What you might realize is that the last year showed everything the right wing media told you about the economics was wrong.

Business cycles are part of economics. Always have been, always will be. Those of us of (ahem) a certain age have seen a number of recessions. They come, they go. This one has been rendered more severe than most because the financial industry didn't worry enough about correlated risks, presuming the government stood behind risky financial instruments. Oops.

And if you think it's bad here, read the European press. Europe's hurting, big time. Worse than here, by far.

And right-wing media? I want to move to your planet.

Permalink to Comment

84. John_l on March 31, 2009 1:50 PM writes...

For those of you who think all this job destruction is part of the normal business cycle think again.

IBM Files Patent for System that Calculates How to Offshore Jobs While Maximizing Tax Breaks

//tinyurl.com/dgmfxs

or

//globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com/

Permalink to Comment

85. Anonymous on March 31, 2009 5:58 PM writes...

82. Do not go to Merck if you just want to a good scientists. They do not want good scientists. They only want chiefs and Indians. Those who micromanage well are going to be the chiefs and those recent hires are the slaves. Go somewhere else!

Permalink to Comment

86. Anonymous on March 31, 2009 6:16 PM writes...

82: if you're just entering into the industry i don't think you'll have too much to worry about. In about 5-10 years you may want to have an alternative direction you want to go in, like pharmacy, CROs, government, or consulting. I'm young in the industry so I'm going with the flow.

Also, post merger I've heard 15% layoffs of the combined Merck/SP ~15000. Of this, 60% will be admin and marketing. The remaining will be research/manufacturing. Since Merck is running the show SP employees should be scared but MErck emps shouldn't get comfortable either.

This is going to stifle research from both companies even if the merger somehow doesn't go through. The good thing is the CEO of Merck only has 2 more years to go. If a CEO is promoted within, Merck is going to slide some more...if they get someone who understands the research and science aspect of the industry (not just business) they may recover a bit.

Permalink to Comment

87. Frankie on March 31, 2009 7:45 PM writes...

Thanks to the "Bobs" that showed up to offer consulting advice to Mrk, we can now look forward to the company moving to a "rectangle" leadership model. WTF is that?

Permalink to Comment

88. Anonymous on March 31, 2009 8:20 PM writes...

86. the issue is not with Dick Clark. The problem is Peter Kim and Kathleen Metters. They have to go because they really screwed up research and are out of touch with the labs.

Permalink to Comment

89. Anonymous on March 31, 2009 8:27 PM writes...

Peter Kim, what a failure? They guy does not have a clue about drug discovery and surrounds himself with similar people. George Merck must be rumbling in his grave now.

Permalink to Comment

90. Anonymous on March 31, 2009 8:44 PM writes...

10 reasons Peter Kim has to go

1. has no clue about drug discovery
2. promotes or installs unqualified people (all the franchise and basic research heads) in key positions
3. lets go excellent and experienced scientists
4. is responsible for an toxic environment with the lowest morale
5. does not have trust of MRL employees
6. constantly changes research directions, e.g. RA research, which used to be a priority, was completely shut down. It is on the priority list again after only 2 years.
7. is out of touch with the labs. Never even visits research sites any more.
8. always talks about transformation and leadership with little regard about science.
9. always talks big but never gets his messages across
10. THE PIPELINE IS DRY AND GETTING WORSE AND WORSE UNDER HIS WATCH

Permalink to Comment

91. Anonymous on March 31, 2009 8:55 PM writes...

10 reasons Kathleen Metters has to go, too

1. micromanages with no vision.
2. promotes people by nepotism and favorism.
3. punishes people who dare speak up.
4. mismanages basic research by constantly restructuring.
5. can only relys on inner circle and has no morale authority to lead.
6. cares more about process than science.
7. is also responsible for the low morale and productivity in the labs.
8. does not respect expertise in BRGOS, relocating Franchises to sites with no expertise and put people with no expertise in leading position.
9. does not encourage diversity.
10. keeps filling up the pipeline with low quality PCCs that fail again and again.

Permalink to Comment

92. amperro on April 1, 2009 1:41 AM writes...

I have an M.S. in Biochemistry and ten months industry experience in molecular biology (but no industry experience in pharmaceutical chemistry). I have not had luck finding employment in biotechnology or pharma. I am worried that I will not be accepted into a Ph.D. program. I am starting to wonder if I have any future in this field. Am I being a pessimist or a realist?

Permalink to Comment

93. processchemist on April 1, 2009 1:58 AM writes...

@83

"And if you think it's bad here, read the European press. Europe's hurting, big time. Worse than here, by far."

A recent study elaborated a model with a "crisis multiplier": how much the crisis impact on the national wealth. It turns out that the european welfare shields lower the effects. The multiplier is 1.64 for US, 1.14 for the EC.
In continental Europe it's not so easy to fire 400 people at once. It can happen, but it's far more difficult than in US or UK.

Permalink to Comment

94. Anonymous on April 1, 2009 6:59 AM writes...

Merck is resting on some pretty ancient laurels. Since Kim and his sycophants came into power, three compounds were stopped in Phase III - a first at Merck. A marketed product was pulled - a first for Merck. The number of patents from Merck has dropped precipitously, and the number of publications has fallen. Morale is at an all time low - even die-hard Merck defenders are questioning the value of the current scientific leadership now. Kim and his cronies have systematically gone about destroying a once-great R&D engine. Which is why Merck needs to buy a pipeline - another first for Merck. Don't be surprised at how Kim et al. will raze the R&D groups at SP as well. Kenilworth may remain as a former shadow of itself, but the earth under Summit, Union, and perhaps Oss will be salted. Clark apparently doesn't understand or doesn't care what Kim and his sycophants are doing. The Board and the stockholders are asleep as well.

Permalink to Comment

95. SRC on April 1, 2009 12:13 PM writes...

A recent study elaborated a model with a "crisis multiplier": how much the crisis impact on the national wealth. It turns out that the european welfare shields lower the effects. The multiplier is 1.64 for US, 1.14 for the EC. In continental Europe it's not so easy to fire 400 people at once. It can happen, but it's far more difficult than in US or UK.

I was referring to the national economies as a whole, not individual prospects within them. The UK, for example, is closer to the Icelandic situation than most realize.

Permalink to Comment

96. Anon on April 1, 2009 1:17 PM writes...

10 reasons Peter Kim has to go

Add #11:

Never goes to the library.

Permalink to Comment

97. Anonymous on April 1, 2009 5:57 PM writes...

I am surprised that he has stayed so long. I guess that he probably has two more years. I hope that he and Kathleen will retire and do not go to other companies. Otherwise, those companies will be in BIG TROUBLE!!!

Permalink to Comment

98. Anonymous on April 1, 2009 9:51 PM writes...

any comment about Varecella, bldg. 12 managment

Permalink to Comment

99. S SIlverstein on April 2, 2009 6:54 AM writes...

Based on my firsthand experience with the 2003 Equinox layoff, I'd say the reason pharmas are failing is that their highest ability and most innovative talent is either in the unemployment line, or intimidated into keeping innovative ideas (i.e., that upstage those of limited ability) to themselves. This is part of a syndrome of epidemic talent mismanagement now prevalent in pharma and in fact most complex industries.

This is only made worse by age discrimination, a discrimination beyond foolish but another component of talent mismanagement.

Even with our economy and industries in a state of upheaval second only to perhaps 1929, little will change in terms of talent mismanagement. Like alcoholics, substantive change will only come when things really hit bottom.

The article "Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One's Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments" explains all too much, unfortunately.

Permalink to Comment

100. Anonymous on April 2, 2009 2:02 PM writes...

I'm doing anything I can to escape - have survived a couple of rounds of 'downsizing' but I doubt I'll survive many more (hard working, half decent at job, got promoted, don't want to be involved in all the political BS, have ended up sticking out like a sore thumb).

Good luck to all those at Merck/SP. But to those of you who feel you can pick up work elsewhere take the money and run a mile

Permalink to Comment

101. Cloud on April 2, 2009 2:44 PM writes...

@amperro- 10 months experience is nothing, sorry to say. Right now, you're competing with people with 10 years of experience.

Times are tough in pharma for the reasons you've read on this blog. Times are tough in biotech because capital is hard to come by right now. I won't pretend to know when/whether times will get better.

Unless you are a complete f***-up (and probably even if you), you'll find a PhD program that will take you. The question really is- is going back to grad school the right move for you? If you're doing it just for good job prospects at the end, I think you'll be disappointed. No one can predict what jobs will be plentiful in the future, but in the almost 10 years since I got my PhD, I've never had the impression that the PhD made it easy to find a job.

That said, the work I do is only peripherally related to my PhD work, and the direction I've taken could have been taken without the PhD. But I am still glad I have my PhD. It was a good experience for me.

Get a PhD because you like research, think it will be a good experience for you, or even because you don't know what else to do next. But don't do it as a sure ticket to a job or you'll end up as bitter as some of other commenters on this post.

Permalink to Comment

102. Mars on April 3, 2009 7:09 AM writes...

So many pathway news.....

I used to working for Merck Projects in a CRO company in China.

I am wondering why the budget is smaller and smaller. Seems Kim is the problem based the comments above.....

Permalink to Comment

103. Anonymous on April 3, 2009 7:25 AM writes...

Peter Kim is my hero,
because I work for Pfizer and Merck is our old foe.
I am glad that he rules Merck research like a real Kim,
that makes Pfizer look like his cousin to the south if you get the idea.
Oh, Kim, the dear leader,
Oh, Kathy, the queen to cheer.
I am glad you make such a nice pair,
because with your help, Pfizer will soon be able to merge with Merck in reverse gear.
Oh, Kim, you are my man,
oh, Kathy, you are the research queen.
Let us work together with high self-esteem,
seamlessly, make a transition to the new Pfizer (no Merck) team.

Permalink to Comment

104. Anonymous on April 3, 2009 7:29 AM writes...

nice rhythm! I hope that Dick can read it and love his little puppet more.

Permalink to Comment

105. Anonymous on April 3, 2009 7:30 AM writes...

nice rhyme! I hope that Dick can read it and love his little puppet more.

Permalink to Comment

106. Bystander on April 3, 2009 10:27 AM writes...

due to numerous converging factors the return on research expenditures are shrinking to unsustainable levels. There seems to be a "natural" cap on the number of compounds that are able to reach the market and bring a return. Throwing money and resources at this problem has not worked. So Pharma must shrinking its expense base until the science enables greater research productivity.
The herd must be culled, however PK and KM must be held accoutable to their Shindler's list.

Permalink to Comment

107. Anonymous on April 5, 2009 6:19 AM writes...

Peter Kim and Kathleen Meters should resign. They have created enough problem in Merck. There is no reason for the recent cuts, they are sending home excellent scientists with a lot of experience (these scientists were still very productive) and by the back door they are hiring other ones. All Kathleen intimate friends (peoples in Merck know who they are) are keeping their job. At Merck there is no place for discussion they want only one type of person in place. How science can progress if there is no diversity.

Permalink to Comment

108. Anonymous on April 5, 2009 1:03 PM writes...

"Hassan said he has not yet decided what he will do after the merger, but, "I'm looking forward to new challenges" and will be available if Clark needs his help."

Does this mean this guy is going to become CEO of the new Merck when Dick retires? Does not sound good. But still better than letting PK and KM stay. In the end, it will become a part of the new Pfizer.

Permalink to Comment

109. Anonymous on April 5, 2009 3:57 PM writes...

I wonder what they are going to do the Schering Plough scientists and the schering plough research management? Sounds like they have done a better job than their big cousins at Merck. Or does that matter at all?

Permalink to Comment

110. Anonymous on April 5, 2009 5:50 PM writes...

It absolutely doesn't matter that SP has done a better job at filling their pipeline compared to Merck. Merck is spending the money, so either Merck can choose to learn from and keep SP R&D intact, or Merck can takeover SP projects and destroy the productive engine that created the pipeline they paid for (the infamous Pfizer model of integration). It depends on how sensible Merck management is...any bets???

Permalink to Comment

111. Anonymous on April 5, 2009 6:27 PM writes...

Reading all the comments makes my stomach turning

I am a PHD in Chemistry and I just got an offer from Schering-Plough for their post-doc fellowship program.

Should I accept the offer? This is definitely something I am interested in however I am also looking for a safe place to start my career.

Permalink to Comment

112. Anonymous on April 5, 2009 7:16 PM writes...

My advice is no if you can find a position elsewhere because no one is focusing at either Merck or Schering Plough. Every one is concerned about their job or career, if they have any with either of those companies. As far as I know, Merck has not been very nice to their postdoctoral fellows lately.

Permalink to Comment

113. Anonymous on April 5, 2009 7:18 PM writes...

So much uncertainty and anxiety at both companies. Not a good place to start a career at all.

Permalink to Comment

114. CMC Guy on April 5, 2009 9:58 PM writes...

#111 Anon guess it does depend on what your other options are and what your career goals might be (if you have set). I do not know current perspective though Industrial post-docs used to be mostly a cheap(er) trial period so companies could evaluate candidates prior to full term employment offers. View was that doing one was "not as good" as being post-doc from "top Syn labs" yet likely better than a "no-name" group (elitism rules in pharma). If you do not end up getting offer at end there are always questions of "why" unless obvious circumstances (i.e. company not hiring). However the "real" experience and contacts (tap network of co-workers with other companies) can be high value added (if you prove yourself but remember works the other way too if do poor job). The "uncertainty and anxiety" will probably be palatable so predict will be tough environment but in a way as a post-doc will be less directly effected so still learning opportunity (especially about more than chemistry). Does not hurt to call and ask opinions of those you might work with before you accept (which should do in any situation).

Unfortunately the way things are going who knows what chemist job situation will be in next few years (bleak IMO). You have to judge whether you can pick up increased employable skills being at SP as post-doc verses other avenues and then pray there will be some(any)thing available down the road.

Permalink to Comment

115. Industry Guy on April 6, 2009 6:58 AM writes...

#111

If I were you, I'd now go get into patent law and start to learn about generic biologics. Thats where the $ will be headed soon enough. As an industrial chemist, the path ahead seems to be shrinking for new chemical entities and growing for new biologics.

Permalink to Comment

116. Anonymous on April 6, 2009 2:12 PM writes...

The first thing Merck probably will do after the completion of the merger is to close the Schering Plough site, some time early 2010, to increase "SYNERGY", a popular word these days.

Permalink to Comment

117. Anonymous on April 6, 2009 4:52 PM writes...

Peter Kim said on Mar.9 that "a substantial majority" of employees of Schering-Plough will remain with the newly-formed company. I guess on the flip side this means a lot of Merck employee will lose their jobs?

It almost sounds like Merck will be outsourcing their R&D to Schering-Plough.

Permalink to Comment

118. Anonymous on April 6, 2009 5:51 PM writes...

But who would believe what that guy says? He said "substantial majority". The next time, they changed it to "majority". And when it is time to axe the site, he would say "thanks for the contribution but the circumstances have changed "substantially" and we can now no longer keep the majority of the employees" Would that surprise you?

Permalink to Comment

119. Anonymous on April 6, 2009 6:00 PM writes...

Just heard the rumor that Schering's OTC business is going to be sold-off to J&J - guess this is part of the post-merger reorg thing.

Permalink to Comment

121. Anonymous on April 6, 2009 6:35 PM writes...

119. that makes sense because Merck is not interested in OTC. I believe J&J is positioning itself to reverse merge with Merck and keep the J&J name. It would work better than hostile take over Schering Plough.

Permalink to Comment

122. Anonymous on April 6, 2009 6:42 PM writes...

I wonder how Peter Kim and Kathleen Metters manage to stay on with such poor performances. What is wrong with Merck?

Permalink to Comment

124. Anonymous on April 6, 2009 8:31 PM writes...

Chemist III? is that the new title for underpaid chemists at Merck?

Permalink to Comment

126. Anonymous on April 7, 2009 7:13 AM writes...

Merck research would still have hope if they got rid of people like Peter Kim and Kathleen Metters.

Permalink to Comment

127. Hendrix on April 7, 2009 3:58 PM writes...

Evan your Alma Mater, Hendrix College, is going to announce firings later this week. The education department is probably going to go along with lots of staff and even some faculty. However, all those VPs and associate VPs jobs area secure. Hell, they might even be getting pay raises!

Permalink to Comment

128. Anonymous on April 7, 2009 6:29 PM writes...

what the hell is Hendrix College?

Permalink to Comment

129. Anonymous on April 7, 2009 6:32 PM writes...

Merck does not need to lay off people if the management knows a thing or two about drug discovery.

Permalink to Comment

130. Anonymous on April 7, 2009 6:54 PM writes...

Rumor has it, after the Merger:

Dick Clark will remain CEO for two years before retiring from Merck but will have a nice Merck Perk.

Hassan will be appointed Executive VP, biologics and vaccine. He will take over CEO from Dick. His plan is to sell Merck to Pfizer in 3 to 5 years.

Peter Kim will no longer be the President of MRL. He will be given a generous grant to go back to MIT be do what he is good at. His place will be taken by SP's current research head.

Kathleen Metters will take early retirement and probably go back to Manchester to teach micromanagement. Her place will be given to Ismail Kola.

Permalink to Comment

131. Anonymous on April 7, 2009 6:57 PM writes...

now sure what Frankie. But the others sound about right.

Permalink to Comment

132. Anonymous on April 7, 2009 7:11 PM writes...

http://money.cnn.com/2009/04/07/news/companies/pfizer_research.reut/index.htm?section=money_latest

Interesting job sharing between top people at Pfizer and Wyeth. A model for Merck/Schering Plough? And Kim as VP for small molecule group? Oh no, he is not good at all. Maybe as VP for Biologics. But how much does he know about that?

Permalink to Comment

134. Anonymous on April 15, 2009 1:13 PM writes...

I am biding on the job in vaccine in west point. any idea how is working there. I work in merck for 12 years. Please anybody works there give an idea.

Permalink to Comment

135. Anonymous on April 20, 2009 10:15 AM writes...

The profit dropped by how much? Merck is done!

Permalink to Comment

136. Anonymous on April 21, 2009 9:16 AM writes...

Need more evidence of the total failure of Peter Kim and Kathleen Metters?

"Merck said it is delaying the filing of the U.S. application for telcagepant (MK-0974), one of the company's investigational calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) receptor antagonists for the treatment of acute migraine. The company said it no longer expects to file a new drug application with the FDA in 2009, and will provide an updated timeline once additional information is available."

Failed leadership again and again. Bet how much his compensation will be for 2009?

Permalink to Comment

137. Anonymoud on April 21, 2009 10:09 PM writes...

Rumor has it there will be 15% layoffs across the board. With the new combined company that equates to 15,000 jobs. This essentially means that Merck will be having layoffs from 2008-2010 non-stop. This really inspires confidence in management!

Permalink to Comment

138. Anonymous on April 22, 2009 12:57 PM writes...

So let us take the stock of the whole situation ever since Dr. Peter Kim and the snobbish triumvirate (Drs. Kathleen Metters, Tony Ford Hutchison and Ken Koblan) showed up to spearhead the science at Merck..
1. Vioxx - withdrawn from the market
2. Taranabant- Phase 3 withdrawl
3. Cordaptive-failure to get FDA approval
4. Telcagepant-delayed filings with FDA
5. Vytorin-in conclusive trial
One after another failure especially at the late stages. In any other company they would have been dealt with strongly but at Merck they are punishing and laying off others. In modifying the words of famous American general Mr. Welch who asked (senator McCarthy) "Have You No Sense of Decency, sir/madam?". As for as my eye can see, Merck will show that they made money and we all know where it is coming from. Collective failure of all these individual is costing this great company with lot of history !

Permalink to Comment

139. Anonymous on April 22, 2009 5:00 PM writes...

Agree. Things won't change unless they change the whole management team from the top to the bottom including the directors. A vet in Merck Frosst has just been named the head of in vivo sciences. How much does she know about pharmacology or any sciences?

Permalink to Comment

141. Anonymous on April 26, 2009 9:23 AM writes...

I was let go after being at Merck for 15 yrs....started right out of college. I'm late 30s and moved quickly up the ladder due to hard work. I agree that without a phd, you're out the door if you're at a phd grade. Merck promoted and rewarded me with raises and bonuses throughout my career and motivated me to do more and more and then turned around and let me go bec I make too much money. However, they were nice enough to tell me I can re-apply for jobs at lower pay scales. This is the new Merck-get rid of experienced, solid, non-bs people and hire cheaper, inexperienced. But with that comes problems and I dont think they realize that the road ahead is messy

Permalink to Comment

142. Anonymous on April 26, 2009 8:58 PM writes...

You are not the only one! I do not think that the current leadership has any vision. All they have offered are poor leadership, micromanaging with no trust, lack of credibility, damaging to morale, poor productivity, weak pipeline and plumeting stocks, etc. I hope that some one can put a stop to it and get some stuff done without talking about "plan to win" all the time. Actions speak louder than words!

Permalink to Comment

143. Anonymous on April 27, 2009 7:10 PM writes...

Why don't the shareholders ask the important question: What has Peter Kim done for Merck in the last five years? Never mind the negatives, what has he produced? If his management team and general oversight of Merck science has not been productive, then it is time the shareholders press for a change in the scientific leadership. It is just poor business not to demand accountability of the leadership team.

Permalink to Comment

144. Anonymous on April 27, 2009 8:12 PM writes...

Nobody knows what the guy is up to when Kathleen is busy ruining the whole basic research by getting rid of experienced scientists and placing all her cronies in important positions. Is MRL better than 5 years ago? No. Will MRL be better off 5 years from now. The answer will be no if they do not change the MRL leadership. Wake up, people. There is no time to waste! The next time a reverse merger occurs, the surviving company won't change its name to Merck.

Permalink to Comment

145. Anonymous on May 2, 2009 7:55 PM writes...

At least all those experienced people laid off from big pharma will have good prospects at small companies and CROs. Merck gave you something marketable on your resume. This is not the case for fresh graduates and those laid off from small companies - they could never compete with ex-Merck employees.

Permalink to Comment

146. Anonymous on May 2, 2009 11:11 PM writes...

Many, many ex-Merck employees let go in 2008 are still looking for jobs. If working as an expert in a silo is marketable experience, then these casualties should have jobs lined up by now. They don't. The industry is shrinking, with fewer number of jobs all around, and the market now demands employees who have cross-functional and interdisciplinary experience. The fresh grads not only compete for jobs with the experienced, but win out - because they are cheaper. Institutional knowledge is no longer valued at Merck, and this is unfortunately also true for many pharma companies. Its all about short term gain. Experience is necessary to define the vision that will produce drugs 5-10 years down the road, not to mention the need to mentor the new grads in their craft. But too many pharma CEO visions extend only to the next quarterly horizon. Pharma success demands that science is our business and business drives our science. The two must be inextricably woven in sensible ways. Current scientific leadership in pharma companies is pretty mediocre, and the CEOs are disingenuous at best. Looking for a job right now is pretty damn tough.

Permalink to Comment

147. Jonadab the Unsightly One on May 3, 2009 8:18 PM writes...

Looks like Merck may be in serious trouble now:
http://blog.bioethics.net/2009/05/merck-makes-phony-peerreview-journal/
As if the drug industry didn't have ENOUGH problems with people mistrusting their products.

If that all turns out to be actually true and can be verified, the FDA should fine them so hard as to risk wiping them clean out of existence, just to send a very clear message that such schenanighans are absolutely not permissible.

Permalink to Comment

148. Anonymous on May 4, 2009 7:07 PM writes...

Although unethical, it is not illegal to package marketing material this way. Ethical or not, Merck will do it as long it it legal.

Permalink to Comment

149. Anonymous on June 6, 2009 1:19 PM writes...

we have so many problems also in vaccines. coverup, mismanagment, discrimination, harresments. this list will go on. it is time someone do something.

Permalink to Comment

150. MRK1 on June 7, 2009 7:00 PM writes...

Another study failed, heart failure drug died. PK really should be fired

Permalink to Comment

151. Anonymous on June 8, 2009 7:40 AM writes...

The whole Executive Management Team of MRL should be fired, starting with him, AF-H, KM, BG and their academic "TA" heads. What ever happened to the experienced management that used to be there? The head of Rahway is borderline psychotic, the head of WestPoint is a yes-man who runs in fear. Merck Frosst is poised to be spun off. Rosetta has disappeared (good 0.6 billion dollar purhase there!). Boston has become Kathleen's repository for her friends. An intellectual exercise: this didn't happen overnight. What happened about 5 years ago that could have led to this? (half a drug life cycle, roughly). Come on, MRL insiders - teach us so the industry can learn!

Permalink to Comment

152. Anonymous on June 12, 2009 10:08 PM writes...

wow, you really hit that nail in the head. Peter Kim and Kathleen Metters are the two to be fired if MRL were to restore its past glories. I believe that it is time.

Permalink to Comment

153. Anonymous on June 13, 2009 12:30 AM writes...

It will be 5 years ago this Sept that Vioxx was pulled from the market. Shortly thereafter, Kim installed a number people onto his team including KM, RT, TF-H and others. This team and their incompetent leader are the perfect storm. No innovation, squandered resources, motion for the sake of motion, and enough meanness that MRL scientists have been overheard referring to the implementation and execution of the "Despondency Program." Speaking up or offering ideas has been very effectively squashed. Fear of reprisal is well-founded. Next, this dream management team will be allowed to seize control of the SP organization and squash the life out of it as well. No one should believe the Orwellian double-speak coming from this management team, especially not SP/Organon folk.

Permalink to Comment

154. Anonymous on June 15, 2009 8:57 PM writes...

is it a coincidence that KM, RT, TF-H and MT are all British?

Permalink to Comment

155. Anonymous on June 19, 2009 10:17 AM writes...

It's because British training in science in particular, but education in general, is far superior to the dumb-downed system that the Yanks have come up with.

Permalink to Comment

156. Anonymous on June 19, 2009 2:54 PM writes...

yes, thanks for the comment, Merv!

Permalink to Comment

157. Anonymous on June 19, 2009 3:14 PM writes...

MRL Boston seems to have quite a few open positions. Why hire when you will turn around and lay off workers in a year? Does thismean Boston is relatively safe from layoffs? Will the Schering site in Cambridge merge with MRL?

Permalink to Comment

158. Anonymous on June 21, 2009 5:35 PM writes...

Who ever cared? Nobody will ever do. This is the way Merck does everything. They pretend nothing will happen and proceed with expansion even though they are planning on downsizing. Only to lay off people and leave empty buildings in the end. What a waste!!

Permalink to Comment

159. Anonymous on July 9, 2009 8:20 PM writes...

I agree. someone has to do something about vaccine section. there are lots problems there espcially varecilla bldg. I have been with the merck for almost 10years and I have not seen such a cover up. Management do whatever they want to you. There is no law. It is a jangle. someone has to do something about the suituation there. I think this bldg. is the worst among the others.

Permalink to Comment

160. Anonymous on July 14, 2009 11:52 AM writes...

Building 12 is a horrible place. The managment in that building have to answer to many cover ups, discrimonation and harresment. Specially mattew sobal, Brian Unagst and Kera Stevenson and....
it is a time not only get the FDA in that bldg. for further misconduct toward the products and also labor issues.

Permalink to Comment

161. Anonymous on August 14, 2009 7:54 AM writes...

It is Kera Stever. She doesn't know anything. Got out of college become sup.because of her father in law. Yeah he is big shot in Merck.

Permalink to Comment

162. Emma on September 11, 2009 6:09 PM writes...

For what is to be such a highly ethical company I am shocked at what goes on in management. Also there are so many"couples" that work for Merck, how did that happen?

Permalink to Comment

163. Emma on September 11, 2009 6:10 PM writes...

For what is to be such a highly ethical company I am shocked at what goes on in management. Also there are so many"couples" that work for Merck, how did that happen?

Permalink to Comment

164. Anonymous on September 24, 2009 7:36 PM writes...

I moved to different section. since I heard Matt Sobol was behind two fights in bldg 12. The managment should fire him. He is a gang leader in that bldg.

Permalink to Comment

165. Mike on October 4, 2009 7:54 PM writes...

FDA suppose to realease the lots. Do they really realize the cover up in vaccine in bldg.12 or this is another Vioxx?

Permalink to Comment

166. Jim on October 13, 2009 2:10 PM writes...

All sups. in 2nd shift are bunch of corupt.

Permalink to Comment

167. Tom on November 4, 2009 6:53 PM writes...

I am sure Matt Sobol has a plan for Uncle John and Mr. Unagst and Sandra...

Permalink to Comment

168. Anonymous on November 4, 2009 8:34 PM writes...

More layoffs at Merck are coming. After all the ridiculous hoopla today, there will be 16,000 people out of a job. Some have already been given notice of their last day. Others have been walked off site. PK and his ruthless soldier RT are ready to start the brutal decapitations of scientists. Only the Rahway fossils seem comfortable and arrogant, as ever.

Permalink to Comment

169. amperro on November 5, 2009 12:25 AM writes...

Pfizer, Johnson and Johnson, Merck, the list goes on and on.

Are we about to see legions of science BS/MS/PhD level people completely out of work?

Permalink to Comment

170. AlchemX on November 5, 2009 2:44 AM writes...

@amperro

I definitely would like to know. I'm hanging in grad school till Feb-March till the dust settles. I wish I majored in business.

Permalink to Comment

171. Staph on November 15, 2009 8:43 PM writes...

This monument has to collapse before any good comes out of it. The corupt managment is the key to this problem. Cover up is the next.

Permalink to Comment

172. Anonymous on November 15, 2009 8:53 PM writes...

I agree. I just saw building 12 in west point. Famous bldg. for having corupt mangment. Brian Unangst, Prison guard and Matt Sobel, gang leader and god knows how many blues he took home. All he does watch movie and trouble the others and list goes on....

Permalink to Comment

173. CorHY on December 6, 2009 8:16 PM writes...

1st shift managment is not any better in 12. All you see is lies and coverup. It is time someone notify FDA.

Permalink to Comment

174. former_slave on March 12, 2010 1:22 AM writes...

Merck's culture is the worse I've seen in all the places I have been in. You are pretty much a slave to the "Gods" in the company. You will never get appreciated for all the good work you've done, but you will get reprimanded for the mistakes you make and they will remember those mistakes forever. Everyone works like a cow and no one every complains and talk badly about anything because you are evaluated based on how other people sees you. People work at all hours, they don't give credit to those who deserves it and managers often take the glory. If you want your preserve your sanity, do not work at Merck, horrible horrible cooperate culture.

Permalink to Comment

175. marryann on April 11, 2010 10:47 PM writes...

Bunch of racists and punks who were riding motorcycle on the street of West point before they become the manager and sup. in merck or ex-convict or prison guards who became director through family chain. strike is on. It is time to get ride of these idiots and do some fresh start.

Permalink to Comment

176. sherry on June 5, 2010 4:39 PM writes...

it is time someone call FDA and report the violation in bldg.12 west point, pa. There are lots of cover up. Non of the batches are good to be released. There is a contamination in the line and management try to hide it. If they see anybody says anything they would remove the person immediately not only from the building totally from the company. What we produce in this building it is not GMP at all. There are particles in roller bottle and they let go.

Permalink to Comment

177. corey on August 23, 2011 4:06 PM writes...

i wander how many will go with new lay offs from that bldg.

Permalink to Comment

178. Anonymous on August 23, 2012 3:36 PM writes...

Competition? Are you insane? This is not competition - Merck is eating its own children! Since when is cannibalism healthy?

MRL is an unmitigated disaster area now. I have never seen so many ELN entries of pure garbage, just to make metrics for some moronic managers. Absolutely less than zero leadership. Frazier has finally stuck his nose into MRL post WuXi's selling compounds on the internet fiasco. But its too late.

Permalink to Comment

POST A COMMENT




Remember Me?



EMAIL THIS ENTRY TO A FRIEND

Email this entry to:

Your email address:

Message (optional):




RELATED ENTRIES
Gitcher SF5 Groups Right Here
Changing A Broken Science System
One and Done
The Latest Protein-Protein Compounds
Professor Fukuyama's Solvent Peaks
Novartis Gets Out of RNAi
Total Synthesis in Flow
Sweet Reason Lands On Its Face