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

Derek Lowe The 2002 Model

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

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

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« Pfizer's New Layout | Main | Lab Equipment: Any H-Cube Troubleshooters Out There? »

November 10, 2009

Pfizer's Site Closures - An Analysis

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Posted by Derek has another look at Pfizer's announcement yesterday, and tries to address some of the many unanswered questions left open by the company's press release. One thing that struck me (and many others) is that the company talked about "moving a number of functions" from sites like St. Louis and Collegeville, but did not come right out and say that they were closing. I understand that there's more than R&D that goes on in these places, but it still seems as if these moves will leave a lot of empty hallways, which you wouldn't think is the optimum solution.

A topic of local discussion has been the two Cambridge sites the new company has, and you can argue that one either way, too. "They do different things, and both of them should stay" goes up against "Why would you have two research sites in the same town if you didn't need to?" Yesterday's release was silent on this question, too.

Eric at Pharmaconduct has gone so far as to put together a database of Pfizer's moves over the last few years, in an attempt to figure out what they're up to. I wish him luck, and I'll follow the success of this effort with interest. I'm not sure if the company's behavior is subject to this kind of field-zoologist approach, but perhaps it is. At any rate, people with information to contribute can help him find out.

Comments (10) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business and Markets


1. Kay on November 10, 2009 9:57 AM writes...

This AP article states that Collegeville will continue to do "some vaccine research" but other research will be moving out. This seems like a temporary solution, since there will also be vaccine research continuing in Pearl River. I don't see how they can keep Collegeville open, since it's a huge facility and they'll only be using a fraction of it. Maybe they're holding on to it until the real estate market improves and they can sell it.

I'm surprised they're keeping Pearl River open, since it's a much older facility compared to Collegeville. But it's only a couple of hours from Groton, which might have been the deciding factor.

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2. Eric Milgram on November 10, 2009 11:08 AM writes...

Hi Derek - Thanks for the post. I've already gotten some great insights from folks this morning. I'll incorporate the info into the database later this evening. Paying customers come first!

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3. Anonymous on November 10, 2009 2:13 PM writes...

They cut 20% in Cambridge....

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4. Anonymous on November 10, 2009 2:54 PM writes...

I've heard 20 % going in sandwich

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5. Anonymous on November 10, 2009 4:27 PM writes...

I heard that all small molecule efforts in Pearl River NY will be shuttered leaving several process and med chemists out of work in Jan

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6. PRL chemist on November 10, 2009 7:27 PM writes...

It's more than "several" chemists. Around 350 chemists were informed yesterday that they will be let go as of 1Q next year. The size of the NEW Pfizer chemistry dept will be SMALLER than the pre-Wyeth size!! They are, in essense, laying off MORE than the total number of chemists that were associated with Wyeth! This has to be the biggest single layoff of chemists in the history of pharma. Many, many of these chemists will never be able to work in the industry again. There just aren't the jobs available.

I'm really suprised that there isn't a bigger uproar about it on this site.

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7. Fat Old Man on November 10, 2009 9:11 PM writes...

Big Pharma is dying from assaults on many angles: generics, increased safety and efficacy scrutiny, stricter guidances, and managed care releuctance for reimbursement. I was struck by 2 segments on public radio today: one was the head of Cipla blaming his inability to cure flu patients in the US with his ripped off version of tamiflu on Roche's patent. The other was on rapid aging of AIDS patients on the cocktails they are taking (as an old process chemist I would not pretend to unserstand the biology behind this effect). What pharma company would invest in new AIDS therapies? I remember a meeting with senior management that asked an AIDS vaccine team if they had factored in that they would have to give it away to poorer countries. As far as the Pfizer announcement, it will affect me significantly. I expect to be days away from retirement benefits when security escorts me off the site. I almost made it.

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8. Former Collegeville Screener on November 11, 2009 9:36 AM writes...

In addition to the medicinal chemists at Collegeville, Pearl River and Princeton, Pfizer has closed the entire Wyeth HTS, powder and liquid compound stores. This includes about additional 75 scientists. This HTS and liquid stores facility at Collegeville was 3 years old and state-of-the-art. All Collegeville "pre-proof-of-concept" research is finished. Very few, if any, transfers to other sites. There maybe some selected later stage research continuing, it is unclear.

Research only took up two wings, the north and south, at Collegeville. The other 4 wings of the building are business functions and are continuing (with lots of changes too).

Pfizer bought Wyeth and ditched the entire small molecule side of the business, except for commercial and late stage pipeline potential products.

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9. petros on November 13, 2009 7:31 AM writes...

More than 50 jobs are set to go in Slough and Taplow in R& D. (It's essentially all clinical research on the two sites half a mile apart).

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10. Anonymous on November 13, 2009 11:27 AM writes...

To Key. This is the way Pfizer always does things. They close the newest facilities and building and move people to the older ones. This way they can remove the highest value buildings from their tax roles.

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