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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: derekb.lowe@gmail.com Twitter: Dereklowe

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In the Pipeline

« XMRV and Chronic Fatigue: You Thought You Were Confused Before | Main | Why Close One Research Site Over Another? »

July 7, 2010

Merck Site Announcements - Closures and Otherwise

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Posted by Derek

A number of sources tell me that tomorrow (Thursday) will be the day that Merck makes a series of big announcements about site closures and re-alignments. I'll leave this comment thread open for news as it comes in. . .and good luck to all concerned. Having been through just this sort of thing myself, I can tell you that it will likely be a relief to finally have everything out on the table. . .

Comments (95) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business and Markets


COMMENTS

1. Frylock on July 7, 2010 8:12 PM writes...

The West Point DPS meeting is at 8:30. I guess "redundancy reduction" in summer is better than getting the boot right before Thanksgiving...

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2. no name on July 7, 2010 8:13 PM writes...

Had a feeling that Merck Frosst is going to stay.

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3. G on July 7, 2010 8:21 PM writes...

all site meetings are 8:30 EST - we shall see by 9

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4. Mary on July 8, 2010 4:18 AM writes...

Thought this was in the pipeline

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5. priscilla on July 8, 2010 5:38 AM writes...

this will all heavily impact the future pipeline

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6. Anonymous on July 8, 2010 6:01 AM writes...

what about the sites in europe?

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7. Mr. E Chemist on July 8, 2010 6:08 AM writes...

I fear that both Oss and Newhouse will be closed. No good choices here....

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8. FMC on July 8, 2010 7:09 AM writes...

@6: what sites in Europe??? You might not recall but the Italian IRBM site in Rome, where Isentress is from (as I do not tire to point out) has already been done last year and the UK years before that. All the best to y'all today...

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9. Hunt on July 8, 2010 8:11 AM writes...

"As part of today's announcement, Merck plans to phase out operations at eight research sites over the next two years. These sites include: Montreal, Canada; Boxmeer (Nobilon facility only), Oss, and Schaijk, Netherlands; Odense, Denmark; Waltrop, Germany; Newhouse, Scotland; and Cambridge (Kendall Square), Massachusetts, U.S."

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10. Stefan on July 8, 2010 8:15 AM writes...

We've just heard that 2200 jobs of the 4500 jobs at MSD Oss, The Netherlands, will be lost. This will have a tremendous impact on the R&D at this facility, which will be lost. Strange enough, we have heard no statement yet from the Dutch Government who seem to think this is not important. All the best to all the people affected.

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11. stefan on July 8, 2010 8:16 AM writes...

We've just heard that 2200 jobs of the 4500 jobs at MSD Oss, The Netherlands, will be lost. This will have a tremendous impact on the R&D at this facility, which will be lost. Strange enough, we have heard no statement yet from the Dutch Government who seem to think this is not important. All the best to all the people affected.

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12. Stefan on July 8, 2010 8:16 AM writes...

We've just heard that 2200 jobs of the 4500 jobs at MSD Oss, The Netherlands, will be lost. This will have a tremendous impact on the R&D at this facility, which will be lost. Strange enough, we have heard no statement yet from the Dutch Government who seem to think this is not important. All the best to all the people affected.

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13. Ed on July 8, 2010 8:24 AM writes...

So, another kick in the nuts for the UK from Merck, like we really needed another Big Pharma site closure this year.

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14. David P on July 8, 2010 8:24 AM writes...

Announcement here:

http://www.businesswire.com/portal/site/home/permalink/?ndmViewId=news_view&newsId=20100708005702&newsLang=en

but echoes comments above. Good luck to all those affected.

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15. idiots on July 8, 2010 8:39 AM writes...

What is really galling about them closing the ex-Organon sites is that up until 3 years ago Organon was a successful medium sized drug discovery company -

now its been destroyed by the people that brought us Vioxx and Vytorin

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16. Jordan on July 8, 2010 8:49 AM writes...

Merck-Frosst in Montreal is one of the major employers of organic chemists in Canada. Closing that site is going to have a huge impact on the chemistry community here.

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17. Distant_Diamond on July 8, 2010 8:50 AM writes...

I couldn't agree more about the former Organon site in Newhouse, Scotland.

Myopic Merck.

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18. InfMP on July 8, 2010 8:51 AM writes...

I interviewed at Merck-Frosst last year (where everyone working in the labs looked like a forlorn caged animal waiting to be executed).

When the job offer came I asked them if they could guarantee that my job would still be there by the time I arrived for work.

They said "We can not."

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19. Anon on July 8, 2010 8:56 AM writes...

http://www.merck.com/newsroom/news-release-archive/corporate/2010_0708.html

"Merck plans to phase out operations at eight research sites over the next two years. These sites include: Montreal, Canada; Boxmeer (Nobilon facility only), Oss, and Schaijk, Netherlands; Odense, Denmark; Waltrop, Germany; Newhouse, Scotland; and Cambridge (Kendall Square), Massachusetts, U.S.
...
the company intends to cease manufacturing activities at its facilities in Comazzo, Italy; Cacem, Portugal; Azcapotzalco, Mexico; Coyoacan, Mexico, and Santo Amaro, Brazil, and intends to sell the Mirador, Argentina and Miami Lakes, Florida, facilities. In Singapore, chemical manufacturing will be phased out at the legacy Merck site, but it will continue at the legacy Schering-Plough site.
...
The company's research division will retain its focus on seven key therapeutic franchise areas: Cardiovascular Disease; Diabetes and Obesity; Infectious Disease; Oncology; Neuroscience and Ophthalmology; Respiratory and Immunology; and Women's Health and Endocrine. Merck's women's health research, currently centered in Oss, the Netherlands, will be relocated primarily to the U.S"

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20. petros on July 8, 2010 8:56 AM writes...

So Merck has skewered all its European R&D (Ex Organon) and its highly productive Montreal site. Has only Banyu's site in Japan survived of the ex-US sites?

A little Americaner approach is it?

And commiserations guys

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21. Beentheredonethat on July 8, 2010 8:56 AM writes...

Not unexpected I suppose from the MO of the current Merck leaders. I suppose Metters and Hutchinson had a nanosecond of regret before they shafted Montreal. I guess that if you are a small nimble successful site within MRL then you have to tread carefully in future. Oh hang on-there are now no such sites left! Just underachieving larger sites like Boston, W-P and Rahway. I wonder who's next for the chop-my money is on Boston.

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22. FMC on July 8, 2010 8:59 AM writes...

@18: I was under the impression that also Banyu was given the boot either last year or the year before that... But how are things at Boston right now???

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23. anchor on July 8, 2010 9:16 AM writes...

In addition to these well publicized cuts, I also hear that they have "rolling layoffs" from several sites about which we do not hear much! Merck is slipping from bad to worse (as are others) and at this stage it appears that only mangers will get to keep their jobs.

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24. bruno on July 8, 2010 9:33 AM writes...

In a release issued this morning, Merck said it would close research operations in Montreal, Canada; Boxmeer (Nobilon facility only), Oss, and Schaijk, Netherlands; Odense, Denmark; Waltrop, Germany; Newhouse, Scotland; and Cambridge (Kendall Square), MA.

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25. FARMA SUITICLES R US on July 8, 2010 9:41 AM writes...

This announcement focuses on the research and chem groups...any word on the safety assessment side of DPS? Everyone's waiting with bated breath here in NJ...

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26. Aspirin on July 8, 2010 10:31 AM writes...

-"That will leave Merck Research Laboratories with 16 major research and development facilities worldwide, including several large ones that will work on multiple lines of research, involve various scientific disciplines and "respond quickly to change," the company said..."

Hahahahahaha....

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27. Anacin on July 8, 2010 10:40 AM writes...

Merck management doesn't have a clue what it's doing! The downward spiral continues!

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28. RandDChemist on July 8, 2010 10:58 AM writes...

Work smarter, not harder!

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29. MedChem on July 8, 2010 11:45 AM writes...

"Work smarter, not harder!"

Fewer FTEs, more demanding goals= work smarter AND harder

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30. Vicar on July 8, 2010 12:13 PM writes...

Merck Frosst is gone... I guess the MRL Goliath did not want a little David around to make it look bad.

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31. Bunsen Honeydew on July 8, 2010 12:34 PM writes...

@Vicar: I couldn't agree more. This is an extremely dark day for organic chemistry in Canada. Does anyone else feel like there are far too many suits and not enough lab coats running the pharma industry?

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32. partial agonist on July 8, 2010 12:43 PM writes...

What does Merck have in Kendall Square in Cambridge MA? Did they take space from Amgen, Genzyme, or Biogen at some point?

I am assuming that their large facility in the Longwood Medical area is unaffected, and maybe it will absorb many of the Kendall Square people?

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33. non-Mercker on July 8, 2010 12:57 PM writes...

The economics of mergers and the Pharma industry are catching up to mother Merck. Too many long-time Mercksters continue to think that they are immune to what the much of the industry has already had to endure. Site closings and job losses can be difficult on those caught in the decisions, but Merck is not immune any longer.

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34. Anonymous on July 8, 2010 12:59 PM writes...

Merck shutters productive labs
http://blogs.forbes.com/sciencebiz/2010/07/merck-shutters-productive-labs/

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35. Hap on July 8, 2010 1:03 PM writes...

Has somebody solved the problem of how to develop drugs without any scientists, because Merck seems to be acting like it has. Alternatively, they must have solved the problem of how to outsource drug discovery without empowering the people they outsource discovery to to discover and market drugs themselves.

I guess this is why upper management's contribution to drug discovery can't be outsourced or cheapened. Without this magical management powder, Merck would be headed for the discount bin.

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36. last hoorah on July 8, 2010 1:17 PM writes...

All you ignorant scientists are resistent to change and adaptation and do not play well with others. I am in HR and a Six Sigma blackbelt and if it wasnt for my teambuilding excersizes, you prima donnas would have been terminated years ago.

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37. Skeptic on July 8, 2010 1:26 PM writes...

Pharma: "Hey Taxpayers, how bout you paying the salaries of organic chemists"

On Page 759 of the Health-care law signed by Obama is a provision to aid small companies doing research in biotech. On June 21, you can take advantage of a "tax credit" (grant really) worth up to $5 million per company and totalling $1 billion. Its called the Therapeutic Discovery Project Program.

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38. @partial agonist on July 8, 2010 1:32 PM writes...

Schering-Plough had acquired Neogenesis on Bent Street in Cambridge a few years ago. Who knows if any of the staff over there will survive the Great Purge.

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39. Anon on July 8, 2010 1:34 PM writes...

@last hoorah: please tell me this is satire....

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40. Vicar on July 8, 2010 1:43 PM writes...

The "suits" who run the world know only one master: Mammon. With their MBA club memberships, old boys network, and Six Sigma tool kits, they serve their sole purpose of generating profit for the shareholders (usually over short term horizons). This is hard to understand for scientists with higher aspirations and purpose, but the sooner they do, the better. The truth will set you free.

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41. AlchemistOrganique on July 8, 2010 1:44 PM writes...

I suspect that the career fair at the upcoming ACS Meeting in Boston will be a zoo, regardless of job speciality (Pharma, Environmental, QA/QC). As if Boston weren't already a competitive job market for organic chemists, every grad student or postdoc from "top-tier" groups will probably be scheming to get positions that are suited for those with just the right amount of industrial experience. Any thoughts on what would be an "ideal" candidate for an entry-level position in MedChem or Process?

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42. coprolite on July 8, 2010 1:54 PM writes...

six sigma blackbelt.....maybe you can impress some green belts? because no one will ever care. thanks for the laugh, its been a tough day.

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43. EuroPharm on July 8, 2010 2:27 PM writes...

Interesting comments from European sites. Having worked for a major European based multinational, I have experienced the brunt of downsizing and reorganization leveled at the US. It's far easier to take a knife to personnel in the US than face the labor laws in Europe. It is interesting to note that the European colleagues are expressing sentiments familiar to me when the pendulum had swung disporportinately in the US direction...

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44. EuroPharm on July 8, 2010 2:33 PM writes...

Interesting comments from European sites. Having worked for a major European based multinational, I have experienced the brunt of downsizing and reorganization leveled at the US. It's far easier to take a knife to personnel in the US than face the labor laws in Europe. It is interesting to note that the European colleagues are expressing sentiments familiar to me when the pendulum had swung disporportinately in the US direction...

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45. EuroPharm on July 8, 2010 2:33 PM writes...

Interesting comments from European sites. Having worked for a major European based multinational, I have experienced the brunt of downsizing and reorganization leveled at the US. It's far easier to take a knife to personnel in the US than face the labor laws in Europe. It is interesting to note that the European colleagues are expressing sentiments familiar to me when the pendulum had swung disporportinately in the US direction...

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46. EuroPharm on July 8, 2010 2:35 PM writes...

Interesting comments from European sites. Having worked for a major European based multinational, I have experienced the brunt of downsizing and reorganization leveled at the US. It's far easier to take a knife to personnel in the US than face the labor laws in Europe. It is interesting to note that the European colleagues are expressing sentiments familiar to me when the pendulum had swung disporportinately in the US direction...

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47. EuroPharm on July 8, 2010 2:35 PM writes...

Interesting comments from European sites. Having worked for a major European based multinational, I have experienced the brunt of downsizing and reorganization leveled at the US. It's far easier to take a knife to personnel in the US than face the labor laws in Europe. It is interesting to note that the European colleagues are expressing sentiments familiar to me when the pendulum had swung disporportinately in the US direction...

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48. EuroPharm on July 8, 2010 2:37 PM writes...

Interesting comments from European sites. Having worked for a major European based multinational, I have experienced the brunt of downsizing and reorganization leveled at the US. It's far easier to take a knife to personnel in the US than face the labor laws in Europe. It is interesting to note that the European colleagues are expressing sentiments familiar to me when the pendulum had swung disporportinately in the US direction...

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49. fmrGSK on July 8, 2010 2:41 PM writes...

sigh, looks like Merck has embraced the "big pharma is no good at discovery so we'll just buy everything from small pharma and biotech" school of thought popular at other large pharma. Now if those small companies would just get off their duffs and start producing enough promising candidates to drive the price down...

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50. fmrGSK on July 8, 2010 2:44 PM writes...

sigh, looks like Merck has embraced the "big pharma is no good at discovery so we'll just buy everything from small pharma and biotech" school of thought popular at other large pharma. Now if those small companies would just get off their duffs and start producing enough promising candidates to drive the price down...

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51. bbooooooya on July 8, 2010 2:47 PM writes...

"scientists with higher aspirations and purpose"

Hey, great. If you want higher spiriations, go work in academia. If you want shareholders to foot your salary, you best generate some profits.

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52. You're Pfizered on July 8, 2010 2:58 PM writes...

"Any thoughts on what would be an "ideal" candidate for an entry-level position in MedChem or Process?"

Someone at a CRO ex-US, most likely.

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53. Vicar on July 8, 2010 3:11 PM writes...

Actually working in a lab with a professional team to make new drugs for patients in need is a worthwhile aspiration and purpose. It sure beats sitting in a dusty academic office, writing grant proposals, and pointing fingers at those who do the deeds. Too bad Merck just sacrificed so many hard working scientists. Also too bad that there are no real alternatives to Big Pharma for drug development. Guess who the real loosers will be.

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54. Skeptic on July 8, 2010 3:41 PM writes...

>>Guess who the real loosers will be.

You mean most consumers who can't afford the $100,000+ personalized cancer drugs out of pocket?

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55. Anonymous on July 8, 2010 3:47 PM writes...

#53 Vicar

There are alternatives to big pharma for drug development. It just requires a different model. There are now pure development houses (see Clovis or Tesaro). Plenty of experienced consultants and CROs (thanks Pharma!!). It's just different.

Also, it's ignorant to say $100k cancer drugs out of pocket. That's a current market force that can't and won't be sustained.

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56. Anonymous on July 8, 2010 4:00 PM writes...

Got to laugh they get rid of the most productive labs in the network to make their R&D operations more productive. Why are these companies failing to discover drugs? Hmmmmmn I wonder.

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57. Skeptic on July 8, 2010 4:04 PM writes...

President Obama's science advisor believes science is something you can do exclusively on a computer.

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58. Skeptic on July 8, 2010 4:17 PM writes...

I think 'Industry' and 'Academia' need to be further clarified.

"Industry": Oligarchs, Money-changers, Thieves, Crooks, Bankers, Statisticians, Lawyers, ...

"Academia": Sweatshops, Little People, Taxpayers, Shareholders, Financially Stupid People, Physical Scientists, Serfs, ...

Good thing Derek is here to do his best Bill Clinton impersonation ("I Feel Your Pain")

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59. Skeptic on July 8, 2010 4:27 PM writes...

"The truth will set you free."

You're going to audit The Federal Reserve?

I dunno, you'll probably end up in jail.

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60. Hap on July 8, 2010 4:28 PM writes...

Before Merck, etc, started playing for profits (overmarketing Vioxx, for example) in the short term, they used to make money while achieving a higher purpose. They produced enough to keep their stockholders in milk and cookies and to keep the shirts on their employees and the drugs in the pipeline. Purpose and profit are only contradictory if the motto of your company is "Profits uber alles". Destroying the company's productivity for short-term profits doesn't seem to have helped the stockholders, anyway - profits are great, but if you cooked up the seed corn to make them (and left the stockholders with crumbs) I don't think you've exactly performed a service. No rep, no drugs, and lower stock value is not a win-win situation.

Also, it's hard to blame the employees for lack of profit - if your executives are driving your company into a wall, it seems nonsensical to complain about the lack of engine power.

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61. Skeptic on July 8, 2010 4:42 PM writes...

Profits are good; Prophets are even better

Why do science when you can distribute risk and do mark to fantasy accounting? Dumb down the population and pay off a TV guru or two and soon everyone is buying your useless Potions.

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62. Vicar on July 8, 2010 4:43 PM writes...

The slogan of "legacy" Merck was "Where patients come first".
The slogan of "new" Merck is "Be well".

Rather terse and passive. Maybe Dick is a trekkie and fond of the "Live long and prosper" salute.

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63. MoMo on July 8, 2010 5:19 PM writes...

You want to know why all the Pharmas are failing? All the fad science the sheep have followed. Combichem. "Omics". Interfering RNA. You name it and the "Henry Fordization" process and failure is evident.

You can't revolutionize and streamline science the way they thought they could-now we and mankind are paying.

A sad day for science.

And Black-Belt guy. Bite a Fart.

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64. Hap on July 8, 2010 5: