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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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November 20, 2009

Merck, Shopping in the UK?

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Posted by Derek

So, according to this report, Merck is scouting out locations for a UK facility. No word if it's supposed to have a research component, but. . .as a correspondent points out, if only there were a large research campus that they could somehow get their hands on, convenient to both Cambridge and London, with all the facilities they might need. . .hmmm. . .

Comments (22) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business and Markets


1. beentheredonethat on November 20, 2009 9:02 AM writes...

Which phrase best sums up Mercks management team?

a) Left hand not knowing Right hand
b) Meet the new boss, same as the old boss
c) If you want to predict the future look to the past
d) Plain incompetent
e) Bunch of clowns

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2. FME on November 20, 2009 9:47 AM writes...

Considering that Merck is finalising the shut-down of their Rome site (where I continue to point out Isentress was found and developed) the news that they might be looking for a new site in Europe, especially the UK is astonishing and frankly unbelievable. This also in view of the fact that their Terlings Park site has only been closed a couple of years ago.
Should that piece of information be correct, then I must agree with all 5 phrases from 1. beentheredonthat.

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3. petros on November 20, 2009 9:51 AM writes...

If true this is insane as lready pointed out.

Aside from Terlings Park in Harlow there is also a lot of spare space at the GSK site. now done to 1 floor occupied from two large buildings

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4. Rogi on November 20, 2009 10:43 AM writes...

I presume Tony Ford Hutchenson will be the recruiter?

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5. Confused.... on November 20, 2009 12:31 PM writes...

Add to that the research facilities they are aquiring at Newhouse in Scotland. They own plenty of land there to expand the site as well (indeed there have previously been plans approved to double the site).

What happened to Terlings Park? Do Merck still own it? That seemed a great site.

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6. MarkyMerck on November 20, 2009 1:05 PM writes...

Merck already has a research site in the UK in Scotland but maybe they haven't realised that yet

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7. d on November 20, 2009 1:15 PM writes...

beentheredonethat (#1):

did you forget to add (f) all of the above?

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8. usedtobeatirbm on November 20, 2009 3:44 PM writes...

Buy sites near Rome, near Cambridge, near Madrid and assure a presence in the far east by buying a site near Tokyo. Wait for them to be successful. Invest $1bn in the latest useless biological fad and close the successful sites to save money. Repeat until bankrupt. Go back to academia.

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9. ex-Pfizerite on November 20, 2009 9:30 PM writes...

beentheredonethat (#1)

did you forget to add (g) copy all of the bad ideas from Pfizer?

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10. Bob on November 21, 2009 5:23 AM writes...

Terlings Park has fallen into complete neglect, roofs leaking, infrastructure disintegrating - though Merck still own it, having failed to find a buyer. One wonders whether this would have made a difference in the finances when they were deciding whether to close the site in 2006. Last I heard, they were going to sell the metalwork for scrap and sell off the land.

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11. beentheredonethat on November 21, 2009 11:47 AM writes...

Seriously, does make you wonder about the Merck management. A competent, experience, well-equipped, established and successful research set up which probably required just a simple change of leadership (new site head) and direction was closed for unclear reasons. A couple of years later they close two other successful 'biotech size' sites and the next year they are thinking of starting from scratch in the UK apparently on a new site with new staff etc. You just couldn't make this up!! Still, Mercks brain drain has been to the benefit of many other companies.

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12. Bogey on November 21, 2009 2:36 PM writes...

As a number of the posters have already pointed out Merck have just aquired a small molecule research site in the UK with space to expand, therefore don't see this being another small molecule research site.

Clark has mentioned that Merck has the money and apetite for another (smaller) aquisition. Could it be another new technology or even stem cell related like Pfizer?

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13. beentheredonethat on November 22, 2009 10:57 AM writes...

The logical thing would be to leave the old Organon site open. hmmmmm I hope the scientists there have their cv's up to date.

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14. lkt on November 25, 2009 9:06 AM writes...

The old Organon/SP site in the Allentown, PA area will be closing and relocating to NJ. Eighty people will be laid off.,0,4915113.story?track=rss

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15. Oldcynic on December 2, 2009 5:50 AM writes...

They can buy the GSK Harlow site and nearby Argenta Discovery - that way they get facilities AND a pipeline of clinical candidates.

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16. Ex-TP employee on January 20, 2010 9:03 AM writes...

Some of the terlings-park-should-never-have-been-closed comments are wide of the mark. It totally failed to provide a return on investment for Merck and towards the end, following the termination of the GABA work, the quality of the science there was lamentable, bar the g-sec inhibitors. There was much dead wood, particularly in mid-management, the inertia of which rendered changes in direction impossible. At one point it looked as though Merck did have a buyer for the site and thus it was not a bad decision at the time, hindsight is irrelevant.

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17. ex-TP /OP on February 9, 2010 4:03 AM writes...

TP is almost certainly sold the the HPA now thank God such a wonderful site has been saved for science MSD really have thrown away a family jewel.
but who knows maybe they will build another one some were else in the UK .
does anyone remember the farce when Tony Ford Hutchinson delivered the final knife in the ribs to the scientific staff ,and how he arrived in casual trousers and a cardigan driven in a couple of Range Rovers and flanked by five burly plain clothed heavy,s ,whoa as it turned out were a wise move by some one at Merck to protect their man as he delivered one of the most inflammable statements to TP scientific staff that designed to insult their efforts and laying the blame for the site closure squarely at their feet .
of course this almost lead to him being the first person to be torn apart by science .what a shame they didnt do it .
for what ever reason Merck had ,TP staff did not deserve to be dismissed in such a shoddy way.
At least they could have dressed Tony up a bit.

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18. deepthought on February 16, 2010 5:10 AM writes...

Interesting. "Terlings Park has fallen into complete neglect, roofs leaking, infrastructure disintegrating". I wonder if the HPA is really aware of what they're planning to buy? Its being sold as a beautiful shiny new replacement for the aging building at Porton Down. frying pan ... fire ??

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19. ex-TP /OP on February 16, 2010 3:56 PM writes...

its surprising what a good pump will be able to recover from the labs ,and a few quid spent on renovation .its not that bad yet .and I think you will find the move has a lot more to do with dissatisfaction with the DSTL landlords.
so I think you will find TP has a lot more frying to do ,given the chance !!! and people with a bit of vision

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20. GSK GURU on February 16, 2010 4:16 PM writes...

If they get TP up and running again if its half as good as it was when it closed , it will knock spots of any facility currently in the UK .When Merck built it they spent an absolute fortune on it .
and I bet they are thanking their lucky stars they didnt have to get to the point of digging it up for the developers the place is so well built they would need lie to the CIA and tell them Bin Larden was holed there so they hurled few Bunker Busters into it.Im sure anyone who ends up working there will soon see what a fantastic site it is and scratch there heads wondering how it was that Merck could have possibly let it go .
"well there loss the HPAs gain" .

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21. ASTRA ZEN GUY on February 17, 2010 3:23 PM writes...

Just a few notes for interested party
Merck spent 380 million building TP
and completed a 40 million animal house extension in 2004
and 12 million robotics lab around the same time .
the roofs were relayed to most of the site from about 2000-2006 with a highly expensive ptfe performance roof which was guaranteed for 30 years ,so if they are leaking I would say they are still under warranty, but I would say if there is any water ingress it would have come from merck turning off the pumps which stabilised the local water table .water ingress would be a problem quite quickly as the site was built in a bowel to assume low visability and approximately 40 % of the site is underground .
this site is like something out af a james bond movie its so classy .
good luck to the People involved from HPA and associated company's rescuing TP .

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22. Veteran on February 22, 2011 6:07 PM writes...

TP was run as an academic institution with business-conscious scientists very thin on the ground. Focus centered on too many meetings and "look what I know/did last year seminars" and "look at this hot off the press methodology that I applied to an idea going nowhere"-little common sense! Don't get me wrong, there were some scientists who had their feet on the ground-take for instance the guy who waited for his director to go on holiday so that he could make a drug he was told would be useless and guess what-Maxalt TM was born! TP's only 100% home made marketed drug in two decades.

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