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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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« Sparteine and Other Fine Chemical Shortages | Main | Checking the Business Ratios »

June 16, 2010

Merck Layoffs - Underway?

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Posted by Derek

I'm told, by a source I have no reason to doubt, that today and tomorrow Merck (and former Schering-Plough) process chemists are having individual meetings to find out whether they're being kept on or not. The Pharmaceutical Sciences department is supposed to go through the same process next week, and Med Chem looks to be on the agenda soon. More details as I hear about them.

Comments (54) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business and Markets


1. milkshake on June 16, 2010 2:52 PM writes...

Up in the air

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2. Anon on June 16, 2010 4:19 PM writes...

Wonder if anyone could comment on whether MRL is still rationing access to SciFinder?

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3. RandDChemist on June 16, 2010 4:21 PM writes...

Leaner Isn't Meaner for 9 Big Pharma Firms That Tried to Cut Their Way to Greatness;content

" — the best a large company can hope for is an average level of efficiency, even when the entire sector it’s competing in has gone through a massive efficiency drive."

Hooray mediocrity!

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4. priscilla on June 16, 2010 6:53 PM writes...

Regulatory at Rahway also - this week...

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5. Anonymous on June 16, 2010 9:02 PM writes...

Take away my people, but leave my factories, and soon grass will grow on the factory floors.

Take away my factories, but leave my people, and soon we will have a new and better factory.

enough said.

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6. Exit stage left on June 17, 2010 4:18 AM writes...

Look after the profits and the staff can look after themselves.

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7. Anonymous on June 17, 2010 6:08 AM writes...

What rationing?

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8. Anonymous on June 17, 2010 8:33 AM writes...

Going on right now in the research department too.

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9. Anonymous on June 17, 2010 8:55 AM writes...

confirmed that Rahway process took some hits yesterday, actual %ages are unknown.

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10. Andrew Ryan on June 17, 2010 9:34 AM writes...

My co-worker's husband works in Medicinal Chemistry at Schering Plough in Kenilworth. She said there's going to be 25% layoffs and they will find out by July who's going.

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11. David formerly known as a chemist on June 17, 2010 11:33 AM writes...

News out today that Merck is cutting 20% of its workforce in France, or about 800 jobs.

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12. Ed on June 17, 2010 1:08 PM writes...

Any news from SP/Organon/Merck in Newhouse?

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13. spfriend on June 17, 2010 2:07 PM writes...

I've heard speculation that Newhouse is likely closure, with Oss being spared.

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14. Rychemist on June 17, 2010 3:20 PM writes...

Heard big cuts in West Point next week. Also heard that Newhouse will close from a colleague in HR.

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15. HomoLumo on June 17, 2010 6:58 PM writes...

I heard that Boston might be on the chopping block. Any word on that?

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16. Anonymous on June 19, 2010 10:43 AM writes...

This week was not a bloodbath on either site, but it wasn't pretty either. Lots of good people gone now. The gods help us if we don't launch our top two drugs next year.

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17. Anon E. Muss on June 19, 2010 8:50 PM writes...

What do you mean by "either site"? The discussion thus far has mentioned 6 different sites.

You also said "lots of good people gone now". Do you mean they got the immediate brown box treatment? I thought 60 days WARN was SOP across big pharma.

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18. Anonymous on June 19, 2010 10:22 PM writes...

In the US, Process is located in two sites.

WARN requires 8 weeks of pay - but not necessarily 8 weeks of further work. Company can choose to make the laid off employee work those weeks, or just add on another 8 weeks to the severance package.

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19. Deekai on June 20, 2010 12:50 PM writes...

When I was laid off a little while ago, the company told me that I had 60 days work/pay pursuant to the warning law. However, they wanted me out of the place the next day. They pointed out if I took a job during that 60 day period that I was a voluntary separation NOT a layoff, etc.

The way things turned out, I was "employed" during that period with 401K matches and everything else. The severance started on day 61.

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20. Anon E. Muss on June 21, 2010 8:52 AM writes...

@16. Could you quantify "it wasn't pretty either" in terms of percentage? I am assuming that the benchmark for "bloodbath" is West Point's 33% cut from last spring.

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21. GregChemist on June 22, 2010 1:52 PM writes...

Layoffs will start Wednesday in DPS according to a source in HR. Pretty bad environment around here. I've been at Merck 3 yrs and there have been layoffs every year. Shame on you mangement!

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22. Sad Days on June 22, 2010 6:03 PM writes...

Anyone hear anything regarding what will happen to Frosst in Canada?

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23. priscilla on June 22, 2010 6:33 PM writes...

Extremely stressed environment in Kenilworth

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24. Anonymous on June 22, 2010 7:08 PM writes...

No news at MF. Anxiety is running high.

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25. Anonymous on June 22, 2010 10:13 PM writes...

Strader back to Rahway with promotion. Vacca to Kenilworth. MF gone? Tillyer a clueless moron/puppet. Sorry to all the good and smart people who will suffer in the process at all sites. Hope this is wrong. Morale and productivity down at all sites. It is almost as if Merck want to continue the cycle of futility and drag S-P into the process, thanks to Hassan. A similar event will happen in 5 years or less. Good Luck to all.

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26. Anon E. Muss on June 23, 2010 8:49 AM writes...

@21 What is DPS?

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27. Anonymous on June 23, 2010 9:00 AM writes...

DPS =? discovery & pre-clinical sciences

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28. Anonymous on June 23, 2010 2:40 PM writes...

No layoffs at west point yet.

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29. Anonymous on June 23, 2010 6:41 PM writes...

heard some losses at MF

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30. Anonymous on June 23, 2010 8:12 PM writes...

No layoffs at MF yet! That is not part of the current round of layoffs, US only. Process and Pharm Sci depts among possibly others have been affected. ex-US including some site decisions are rumoured for July 7-8

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31. RealityCHK on June 23, 2010 8:14 PM writes...

These layoffs are very much the part of life now, and will be for a while with us chemists. Some of the chemists might not get another position in the US. I am more concerned about chemists who will be coming out of the school this year or next. Stop blaming your boss, China or India on job losses. I am optimistic the jobs will come back in the US, once biotech industry will realize biologics is not the way to go, and these overseas companies can not discover small molecule drugs. It might be late for many of us by then.

My advice is to have Plan B, you will be out of chemistry for a bit longer. If you are over ten years of experience, and approaching fifty, you can virtually kiss good bye to the chemistry job. This is a harsh truth, I am sorry to say that. The chemists are diversifying now in legal, regulatory or sale, however, there might not be that many positions left in these areas either. The environmental and green chemistry is good one, if you can train yourself for that. The chemists have unique entrepreneurial skills, use the skills and move on to something different. I am writing you with my own experience. We will get through this, good luck to you all.

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32. happy on June 24, 2010 8:37 PM writes...

Nothing happened in west point!

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33. Anonymous on June 25, 2010 5:55 AM writes...

So why did they ask for hand raisers at WP? The usual possible layoff in the near future?

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34. Anonymous on June 25, 2010 7:17 AM writes...

@33, Please elaborate. Thanks.

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35. Anonymous on June 25, 2010 7:41 AM writes...

At MRL West Point: a few months ago HR was asking for "hand raisers" for separation (within certain departments). Was wondering if anyone has an idea as to if and when that layoff will occur.

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36. Anon E. Muss on June 25, 2010 10:36 AM writes...

Is there precedent in the industry for "hand raisers" being granted their wish? Some of these layoffs are more about cost cutting than simply "re-organization" despite the public legal-clad statements issued by companies.

What happens when the real intent is to induce the over 45 crowd to volunteer and they don't (because they are the least likely to be picked up by other companies) BUT the younger (i.e. 5-10 year experience) crowd volunteer since they are very likely to have multiple other offers and would like to leave while pocketing the severance? The ageism aspect of some of these layoffs is not exactly a secret to those who have actually witnessed major cuts.

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37. Anon E. Muss on June 25, 2010 10:36 AM writes...

Is there precedent in the industry for "hand raisers" being granted their wish? Some of these layoffs are more about cost cutting than simply "re-organization" despite the public legal-clad statements issued by companies.

What happens when the real intent is to induce the over 45 crowd to volunteer and they don't (because they are the least likely to be picked up by other companies) BUT the younger (i.e. 5-10 year experience) crowd volunteer since they are very likely to have multiple other offers and would like to leave while pocketing the severance? The ageism aspect of some of these layoffs is not exactly a secret to those who have actually witnessed major cuts.

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38. MC2process on June 25, 2010 8:34 PM writes...

Oh there are 'precedents' at Rahway.

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39. Anonymous on June 28, 2010 7:22 AM writes...

Aaaaaaaaa, just so demotivated at the moment, can see the lay-off train headlights coming fast and my foot is stuck in the track.
Feels like there is no escaping the inevitable.
No-one can be bothered working, everyone is fed up with the lack of proper information.
Did everyone else enjoy Dicks holiday snaps as much as I did? Really motivational - NOT!
Anouncement dates are flying around like trash in the wind. 1st, 7th, 8th - none after that, oh my God, its nearly here!
Why do we get landed with such bad CEO's - Fred H was a total backstabber, but Dick is starting to make Fred look like a saint.
Good luck to all, fingers crossed, hope you get what you wish for.

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40. X on June 30, 2010 2:01 AM writes...

Newspapers say MSD in Oss will close except a for a small facility for production of contraceptives. 2500 jobs. Starting with 700 jobs in production and all 200 researchers.

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41. skeptical on June 30, 2010 5:19 AM writes...

"newspapers???" ..... will you reference your source please? A link?

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44. Priscilla on June 30, 2010 7:45 AM writes...

about 5 Dutch newspapers confirm report.

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45. xx on July 1, 2010 2:34 AM writes...

Unions are preparing to go to the parlement as this would greatly effect the economy in this region.

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46. x on July 1, 2010 4:49 AM writes...

Rumours say thursday next week decicions about Organon/SP/Merck site in Oss will be made public.

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47. x on July 1, 2010 7:55 AM writes...

Unions are preparing to go to the parlement...

Heard something like that too. The unions don't know that the parlaiment is empty... Dutch parlaiment's summerholiday started today. (MSD knew that)...

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48. Sad Days on July 2, 2010 8:23 AM writes...

Besides the Process lay-offs in RY a couple of weeks ago, has anyone heard of any other DPS layoffs in the US?

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49. G on July 7, 2010 4:59 PM writes...

tws' the night before the sync'd site announcements.. not a creature is talking?

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50. DP on July 7, 2010 7:55 PM writes...

Brilliant the way they are doing it actually. We were all expecting the "day before" thing, but that would have been too obvious. Well played RT

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51. no name on July 7, 2010 7:55 PM writes...

Have a drink and have a good night sleep. Be prepared for tomorrow.

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52. Vicar on July 8, 2010 6:06 AM writes...

Brace for impact, here comes yet another "Black Thursday".

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53. braina on September 18, 2010 2:14 PM writes...

first they need to get rid off the managements in varicella building in west point pa. those guys deserve to be dismissed. there are so many cover-ups in that building that's unbelievable. Just in case to keep their jobs. Anybody says something they set their profiles and get rid off somehow. FDA does not know much about the situation. It is time all of us to report faulty batches on line and report these idiots as criminals. They are playing with lives of children. For FDA information this is regarding building 12, west point pa.

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54. Jeff on February 27, 2011 8:18 AM writes...

Organon employees have been protesting since the anouncement of the lay-offs in Oss (2175 jobs are lost). Every day a group of 10 employees are walking from the merck laboratories to the city hall. They have done this more than 100 times now.
In the meantime. In the meantime the labor council and serveral union have taken Merck to court.

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