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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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June 22, 2010

Andrew Witty's Advice

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Posted by Derek

Andrew Witty of GSK is warning European governments (Greece and Spain especially) against whacking drug prices in an effort to save money. And while he's got a point, I think that the people who have been let go by the company in recent months won't appreciate the headline "Cut now and regret later, warns pharma chief". Or maybe they will, depending on their tolerance for straight-up black humor.

Comments (13) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business and Markets


1. Evotrich on June 22, 2010 2:19 PM writes...

I don't know why he's "warning against it" - Spain and Greece are already doing this. I know of at least 2 Spanish pharmas who are cutting programs, and people, as a direct result.

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2. cynical1 on June 22, 2010 3:29 PM writes...

Well, if a lot of countries force drug prices down in the near future, it might even conceivably bite into Mr. Witty's poultry bonus next year. And we can't have that, can we? That would be short-sighted! It might interfere with his ability to bring life-saving medicines to the masses like fish oil or resveratrol or something big that he hasn't yet in-licensed. On the plus side, he's still got the other half of R&D to chop before it seriously makes a dent into the executive suite's lifestyle. They have already found a very successful algorithm for that process.

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3. anonymous on June 22, 2010 8:01 PM writes...

#2 Why such hatredfulness? It is solely Mr. Witty's lordly right to cut anything in any way related to GSK and if someone wants to infringe upon it he has every right to be upset, no?

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4. DrSnowboard on June 23, 2010 2:44 AM writes...

He's paid in chickens? Accusing him of feathering his own nest?

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5. sepisp on June 23, 2010 5:49 AM writes...

Well, at least the United States retaliates against countries where the government pays only for the price of the cheapest generic, not what the doctor prescribed. The lobbyists forced countries like Canada, Norway and Finland to a U.S. government intellectual property blacklist. Hypocrisy is obvious since the U.S. government itself pays nothing for medications prescribed to its own citizens. I think Witty is thinking of doing something similar.

In fact this could stimulate the Greek economy by increasing domestic investment, since Greek investors know that this IP blacklisting is hogwash while foreigners don't.

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6. daveh on June 23, 2010 8:54 AM writes...

Poultry? I'm sure that HCEs at GSK are compensated with unicorn meat.

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7. emjeff on June 23, 2010 9:28 AM writes...

#5, what are you talking about? Ever heard of Medicare?

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8. cynical1 on June 23, 2010 9:37 AM writes...

Sorry, 'paltry'............But the responses were funny. We did all note that the company's logo looks like the pork (the other white meat) logo. Maybe that's what all of us scientists were to Witty - pork barrel spending. Maybe they should brand a new logo now that looks like a shark.

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9. sepisp on June 24, 2010 7:45 AM writes...

#7: Medicare is only for the elderly and some of the disabled. It's not comparable to European universal insurances, which have no eligibility requirements (other than permanent residence).

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10. Wizzle on June 24, 2010 2:26 PM writes...

Why would anybody expect anything different from the self proclaimed 'not the smartest guy in the room'?

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11. Swiper on June 25, 2010 3:01 AM writes...

Perhaps governments need to take lessons in news management from GSK. Maybe then they could slip in massive cuts without much notice. The entire GSK Harlow site here in the UK will be closed by the end of the year save a token presence. This all happened without much media attention or scrutiny as to its longterm effects on R&D in this country. GSK also successfully spins the numbers to create the impression that all is well within the organisation when clearly it isn't. In truth, GSK is as sick as many European economies and like them is living off past glories. The only real difference is that it's sitting on a mountain of cash generated in the Zantac days and it continues to milk the old patented blockbuster model that served it so well in the past. That's why Witty is so rattled, where one government goes, many could follow. Then the game is up and Witty and Co.

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12. Beej on September 13, 2010 2:10 PM writes...

@Swiper. Yeah, I was a GSK employee too until April, when I left ahead of the latest round of cuts. During my exit interview with HR I made a point of telling them the major reason I was leaving was senior management's lies. Witty: "GSK does not have a policy of moving jobs overseas," even as he replaced entire departments with Indian and Chinese labor. Witty again: "Our employees are our most valued resource," then he announced layoffs 3 months later (after we made $8 BILLION profit!!!). He lies, and lies, and lies...

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13. tiger22007 on November 3, 2010 11:12 AM writes...

Maybe Andrew Witty would take his safe and wonderful drug Seroxat for a while and try to stop taking it,and tell me there are no withdrawal side effects,sorry it is discontinuation syndrome.Then maybe he might get some respect.

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