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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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May 27, 2010

Golden Ages Are Where You Find Them

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Posted by Derek

Remember Pfizer's "golden age of drug discovery", the one that it was entering back in April? News comes now that Martin Mackay, the company exec who gave Bloomberg News that quote, has left for AstraZeneca.

Mackay had been head of Pfizer's research for the last three years, and will be head of R&D in his new position. The news story linked to has various analysts talking about Pfizer's recent problems, and Mackay's effect on them, but I think that sort of thing is unfair. Three years (in most cases) is nowhere near enough time to say whether a head of research is making an impact on the drug pipeline. That's one of the biggest problems with managing in this industry - the long lead times before you get the real answers about anything.

At any rate, I wish good luck to Mackay in his new position, and the same to his successor at Pfizer, Wyeth's Mikael Dolsten. They, like all of us, need all the luck that they can get, golden age or no.

Comments (4) + TrackBacks (0) | Category:


1. partial agonist on May 27, 2010 8:14 AM writes...

Did he take a look at AstraZeneca and see that they are approaching a platinum age?

Maybe if you walk away with enough gold, then it is your own personal golden age. Recycling of careers seems to be good for the personal bank accounts of big pharma executives.

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2. Anonymous on May 27, 2010 8:49 AM writes...

Well Derek, Marty may only have been head of research for 3 years but he's been working his way up for something like 14 or 15 years in the company. So I think he does deserve to be held accountable for a lot of what has gone on at Pfizer.

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3. Hap on May 27, 2010 8:50 AM writes...

Short-term executive turnover seems really good at making sure the executives get paid, but not so good at determining whether the organization is delivering what it paid for. If you can't tell whether the R+D is doing well (or rather, whether the output is related to particular actions or people), then why pay the people running it as if they have created a new Bell Labs for the 21st century?

Why do you think hiring the same people to do the same things will give you a better result?

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4. Anonymous on May 27, 2010 11:26 AM writes...

Both AZ and Pfizer could be better off for moving to a single head of R&D at each company. Mikael Dohlsten at Pfizer is brilliant, but it's not clear he's got a decent pipeline to work with. I hope Kindler gives him the time and resources needed to make changes. Mackay will have his hands full at AZ, which hasn't had an integrated R&D organization since the Astra-Zeneca merger, or at least since Claes Wilhelmsson retired in 2002.

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