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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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March 12, 2010

Lilly Layoffs Today?

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Posted by Derek

I keep hearing from several sources that Eli Lilly is announcing cuts today (well, filling in the details on previously announced cuts, anyway). True, or just rumor?

Comments (36) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business and Markets


1. Gene X on March 12, 2010 12:52 PM writes...

There are no job cuts, the industry is expanding rapidly. So says the latest ACS town hall meeting.

There is a vast shortage of skilled labor. Only 4% of chemists are unemployed (largely due to skills being transferable to the fast food industry).

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2. anonymous on March 12, 2010 1:49 PM writes...

Only 4% of ACS members are unemployed. Perhaps the unemployed cancel their ACS memberships?

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3. Charles Hunter on March 12, 2010 3:00 PM writes...

Per comment #2 and as an FYI to the readers, the ACS will waive membership dues for up to two years, I believe, if a member becomes unemployed.

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4. Anonymous on March 12, 2010 3:09 PM writes...

#2 is exactly right. I was debating whether or not I should keep paying dues after leaving PFE. It really wasn't so much the money. What really convinced me to terminate my membership was ACS supporting a carbon tax without consulting the membership.

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5. Anonymous on March 12, 2010 3:43 PM writes...

There were plenty of cuts. A good friend of mine was told he had 3 months to find another job at Lilly, and if he didn't he would be let go with 3 months severence pay. He's got a family, he's older, and he's not taking it well.

The real shame of it is, he was working for one of those bosses who insists that on a scale of one to five everyone should get a three. Now everyone else started off the ratings discussion by giving their people a five and argues and fights for them, and long story short, this guys people were always the worst rated in the company. So, they're all gone. Since his people always scored so low it looked bad for him, so he's gone, so that's some small consolation.

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6. Jose on March 12, 2010 3:45 PM writes...

Seriously, what benefits does membership give you? A weekly issue of Pravda, and a keychain every 5 years. It won't improve your job situation, and the ACS certainly isn't spending money to study the current landscape. I just let mine lapse, and don't regret it one bit.

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7. You're Pfizered on March 12, 2010 3:48 PM writes...

A friend of mine in a non-discovery area was offered a similar package. 3 months to find a job and then 3 months severance.

Is everyone, regardless of years of service, only getting 3 months? If so, that's awfully weak.

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8. Ex Mrk on March 12, 2010 3:51 PM writes...

Re: 3 months severance.

corporate fascism abounds - company over people.

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9. bbooooooya on March 12, 2010 4:08 PM writes...

"corporate fascism abounds - company over people"

the company IS people

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10. Anonymous on March 12, 2010 5:05 PM writes...

So the 1-5 point manager rating scheme to decide who stays and who goes is not unique to a certain pharma company that shall remain nameless? Do these pharma companies have ANY original ideas or do they just go along like sheep with whatever script the young highly paid MBA "efficiency experts/consultants/blackbelts" shove in front of their faces?

The most disturbing thing about what was said above is that it would seem that Lilly is setting a callous precedent by terminating long term employees with a paltry standard 3 months of severance as opposed to the current practice of using a formula based on years of service. And we all know the herd mentality that permeates pharma. It only takes one of the biggies to start the trend and the rest of the herd WILL follow. Where are all these organic chemists going to find other internal positions with their highly specialized skill set if they don't speak Mandarin or are under 40 years old?

The least disturbing thing about what was said above is the manager who gave all his or her reports a low grade ensuring that they got shown the door. It is welcome poetic justice that he or she was also shown the door. I have witnessed the opposite where the manager shafts all the people who delivered the manager's objectives in the past by grading them low and thus ensuring their exit but the manager was graded differently and survived. At least what goes around sometimes comes around. I wish that would happen more often.

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11. Anonymous on March 12, 2010 5:10 PM writes...


I meant if they don't speak Mandarin or AREN'T under 40 years old.

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12. MedInformaticsMD on March 12, 2010 7:14 PM writes...

I hope Lilly's better at layoffs then they are in recruiting.

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13. expharma on March 13, 2010 7:23 PM writes...

My understanding is 25% of med chem is gone. Mostly mid-career folks. Not the newbie's, not the old dogs: 40+ non-management types.

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14. expharma on March 13, 2010 7:25 PM writes...

Meaning those who do real work.....

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15. nextinline on March 14, 2010 9:18 AM writes...

Are there any sites closures?

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16. Anonymous on March 14, 2010 1:15 PM writes...

Unlike other recent reorganizations, where this blog was immediately flooded with quite detailed info, I am surprised that there is so little specific information about what is going on at Lilly. Surely the legions of readers of this blog have direct connections with friends at Lilly and should be in a position to give specifics by now?

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17. Anonymous on March 14, 2010 4:12 PM writes...

Here is what I know. A friend was recent "reallocated" - in Lillyspeak, this means that they were part of a larger group that was place on "reallocation" of employees to "other" areas that have needs for warm bodies, hearts, and minds to perform business critical tasks. During the past few years, and several years into the future, being "reallocated within the company" is impossible for the following reasons:
1) Positions that disappear through "attrition" are not filled by FTEs (i.e., those working directly for Lilly with full benefits).
2) New positions are almost always staffed by "insourcing" or "outsourcing" so that internal lateral, upward, or downward moves at Lilly are very few and far between.
3) Lilly USA has a stated intent of shrinking by 6000 or more positions (out of a total of 25000). At the same time the global Lilly will be adding positions abroad, with a big emphasis on China in particular. Anyone remotely familiar with Lilly USA knows that almost all large groups of employees are located in Indianapolis.
4) From the above considerations, it's quite clear that the 35% staffing cuts will be almost exclusively at Lilly corporate and technology centers.
5) The "reallocations" have been happening for some now - maybe 5 years - but the company continuously finds ways to reallocate employees into oblivion at the lowest possible cost.
6) Talk to anyone who has left the company willingly or not during the past few years to edify the details. It is my sincere hope that Lilly and employees act with "enlightened self-interest" and MAKE IT REAL with obsolete terminology and outdated labor law enforcement.
7) A major class action lawsuit by those already involuntarily separated or soon involuntarily separated would do wonders for both the company and the employees affected. A few thousand individual lawsuits would overwhelm the judicial system locally, and stretch on for many years.
8) Act early and often. Have your resume ready, and post on all of the legitimate online posting sites, apply early and often.
9) You do not want to be among the last of those separated. Better first than last, because those who are retained a little longer will suffer lingering fatigue for months following separation and that is the last thing you need while looking for a job.
10) The company is moving slowly to establish superficial attempts at aiding employees through an upcoming "career transition" but just try to get details of the benefits available. If Lilly uses it's traditional formula for separation benefits, you can be certain that one or more years of profitability will be consumed, and maybe much, much more. Make them keep it real. You were promised life-long employment to entice you to leave your more cultural setting for a place that is severely lacking in alternatives of all kinds. Keep it real.

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18. Evorich on March 15, 2010 5:57 AM writes...

"You were promised life-long employment . . ."


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19. rogi on March 15, 2010 1:36 PM writes...

Perhaps the Lilly folks don't frequent this blog. There is an earful on Lilly's Cafepharma Board.

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20. anon the II on March 15, 2010 2:25 PM writes...

Rogi may be right.

My guess is that there's also some pretty strong language about running your mouth in the severance agreements and a lot of Red Book waving to those that get to stay.

And maybe a general depression. Cymbalta can help that.

Just a guess.

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21. SRC on March 15, 2010 4:16 PM writes...

The most disturbing thing about what was said above is that it would seem that Lilly is setting a callous precedent by terminating long term employees with a paltry standard 3 months of severance as opposed to the current practice of using a formula based on years of service.

Moral of story: keep moving every few years. No point in sticking around; jump from log to log in the river.

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22. Anon on March 15, 2010 5:55 PM writes...


People with employed spouses, kids and mortgages cannot embrace this nomadic employment thesis.

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23. Anonymous on March 15, 2010 6:37 PM writes...

"You were promised life-long employment . . ."

Nearly everyone hired five or more years ago was lied to on this topic. Were we supposed to have been wired to record the promises? Just what would they be worth? My first month on the job, I was told by my manager that the only way I could ever be let go was either to steal something or to assault someone - but sexual harassment would merit a very serious reprimand. Hey it's all "lies lies lies lies lies...." except these are American made.

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24. SRC on March 15, 2010 7:05 PM writes...

People with employed spouses, kids and mortgages cannot embrace this nomadic employment thesis.

I understand, but then it's time to find another line of work, because either you move on your own, or you will get laid off and then move. That's the reality that I see.

The closest model for discovery-stage chemists is construction workers, who also move from site to site. We just have to move further, that's all. Or get out.

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25. anonym on March 15, 2010 10:26 PM writes...

The 3 month severance is for people with fewer than 10 years of service. Those with 10 years or more service get severance based on a formula related to the length of service. Not to say this is generous (it is not), just to clarify the info.

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26. You're Pfizered on March 16, 2010 10:03 AM writes...

CafePharma Chemistry Layoff post:

#25-That is an awfully weak severance package. I realize companies aren't required to offer severance, but 3 months for someone who worked there 9 years is woeful, especially in this economic climate.

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27. nother nonymous guy on March 16, 2010 7:28 PM writes...

If we go by what comment #3 said, seems people get paid for 3 months while they look for a job within the company. Then if they leave, they get a minimum of 3 months severance. I would read that as a minimum 6 month severance.

Is that similar to what other companies have done?

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28. nother nonymous guy on March 16, 2010 7:35 PM writes...

sorry, make that comment #5

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29. milkshake on March 16, 2010 8:00 PM writes...

well for those who complain about 3 month salary severance, I got fired from Scripps Florida on moments notice, without severance, based on a fabricated accusation - that was since disproved by the re-investigation that I forced - but I am still fired because the boss of drug discovery and VP for research decided that it should be so. There is "employment at will" here in Florida, and I even did not get paid any unused vacation time because Scripps has a policy that scientists "do not accumulate paid time off". I have not taken any vacation for over 3 years.

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30. Anonymous on March 16, 2010 8:40 PM writes...

Actually, I think the WARN act mandates 60 days paid notice prior to involutary termination so they are in fact giving 30 days additional pay beyond what the law requires. Severance does not kick in until WARN expires. At will state makes no difference.

At least one other company, after you were notified of your impending termination you were expected/required to continue "focusing on your objectives" until the day of termination. Whether those notified of being lead to the employment gallows paid any attention to this "expectation" was debatable. Don't see how one can be expected focus on finding one of the few if any internal jobs available and still "focus on lab objectives". The guys at the top can be so (fill in the blank as you wish).

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31. WaryScientist on March 16, 2010 9:23 PM writes...

#29 Milkshake: Has Scripps-Fl removed your name from their roster? Your identity is known by some (not including me). Since your case is apparently not resolved, is it wise to be excoriating your former employer on a public forum? Aren't you concerned about intangible consequences?

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32. milkshake on March 16, 2010 11:18 PM writes...

It is resolved - in a sense that I am now fired as of December 2009 and not to be rehired, and now thats official since January 2010 when the re-investigation done by La-Jolla HR VP was concluded. Also, I am not slandering anyone - these things actually happened. And I am not naming names yet.

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33. Hgb on March 17, 2010 9:45 AM writes...

#17 re: A friend was recent "reallocated" - in Lillyspeak

People - human beings - being "reallocated" as if they are inanimate objects? How fascist. These management morons really have gotten the God complex, and their terminology reveals it.

Some advice for you chemists: when you get your next great idea, keep it to yourself.

Don't share it with those who would "reallocate" you, like a dog, for their fun and profit.

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34. recentlydownsized on March 17, 2010 12:39 PM writes...

To Milkshake & others: "employment at will" is not just limited to Florida. The lab temp craze has infected the Northeast Pharma Corridor. Aside from getting hired (or rehired) at half of the original salary, a temp can be booted at will. Even the PhDs are getting called for BS/MS jobs!

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35. Plakater on September 10, 2014 9:44 AM writes...

I could not refrain from commenting. Perfectly written!

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36. salon semo on September 10, 2014 4:49 PM writes...

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