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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...

Permalink to Comment

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...

Permalink to Comment

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...

Permalink to Comment

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 5:21 PM writes...

1) Maybe the full motto is "Be well...because if you get sick, we'll treat you like a pack of wild dogs treat a wounded wildebeest." Or maybe Merck is looking to get a piece of the supplements racket - selling product with unverifiable health effects and with (almost) no sales restrictions seem to be the hallmarks of a growth business if you lack a functioning conscience.

2) Prophets are not better than profits, at least for Jewish and Christian people - after all, there was rarely a prophet that didn't get killed by his target audience. Of course, making people angry doesn't make one a prophet.

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65. sesquiterpene on July 8, 2010 5:33 PM writes...

Merck Boston will not close nor it will be closed in the near future. It is imperative that Merck have a presence in Boston like other big pharma firms and it would be foolish for Merck to squander the >300 million dollar investment in establishing the Boston research site

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66. heyhey on July 8, 2010 5:56 PM writes...

To all of those that are the victims of site closure, my heart goes out to you...

...but please don't go trashing the chemists at other research sites. There are many phenomenal people at WP.

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67. TALL16 on July 8, 2010 6:45 PM writes...

Closing the ex-Organon sites was an easy decision to make. They didn't want to integrate with legacy SP after 3+ years and probably wouldn't have integrated with the New Merck. Dutch pride is costing all those jobs.

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68. Retread on July 8, 2010 7:02 PM writes...

Well, we are a long way from the Max Tischler lectures which Merck endowed at Harvard in the 50s as a way of honoring one of their most productive chemists. I went to a few as a grad student. Big names were brought in. I think I still have my notes on two of them (somewhere), but I can't find them.

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69. @TALL16 on July 9, 2010 1:07 AM writes...

Before you continue bashing the Dutch & other Europeans, do you know any Organon employees? Hubris is not limited to any particular nationality or profession, especially in the sciences. Based on pre-SP-merger media accounts, Organon seemed to be a healthy mid-sized company. Sure, the Pfizer Borg decided not to buy them...because they were planning to assimilate Wyeth instead. IMHO, the biggest problem is the incessant urge to merge. What happened to the good old days in chemistry when companies were numerous and diversified? Places like NJ (now a pharma wasteland) once offered plenty of jobs. I remembered being able to buy Windex, Similac, hair dye, and pies from the BMS company store!

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70. @52 You're Pfizered on July 9, 2010 1:22 AM writes...

I guess I should purchase Rosetta Stone for Mandarin Chinese or Hindi. Yes, I know English is spoken in India, but it's good to know your coworkers are talking smack about you. Anyway what's up with all the duplicate postings?

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71. idiots on July 9, 2010 1:41 AM writes...

@sesquiterpene...

maintaining a presence in Boston is just a PR exercise to say to shareholders look where we are .... we must be clever.

It is the same with what remains in the UK - being near to Cambridge or Oxford (bar pfizer and AZ) MUST mean that we are clever and worth investing in.

Organon in Scotland was 350 miles from the UK golden triangle and got 5 drugs on the market.

Being in Boston means higher salaries as no-one can afford to live there.

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72. Anonymous on July 9, 2010 6:06 AM writes...

Knew it was on the cards.
However the company is treating staff like a number anyway.
Never known it feel so bad.

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73. Chemjobber on July 9, 2010 6:57 AM writes...

41: I answer your very good question here:

http://chemjobber.blogspot.com/2010/07/whats-funding-line-for-big-pharma.html

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74. Anon on July 9, 2010 12:02 PM writes...

Number 65. How many drugs has MRL Boston got on the market?

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75. The Blue Maharajah on July 9, 2010 1:41 PM writes...

When will this end?
Who's left to fillet?

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76. Anonymous on July 9, 2010 7:35 PM writes...

#74 it doesn't matter. #72 is spot on. Did you see Kim's video today? Nothing to do with productivity/success. ????????

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77. Anon on July 9, 2010 7:47 PM writes...

71. Idiots

Would love to know where you get your "information" about Boston employees getting paid more because that is false.

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78. Anonymous on July 9, 2010 8:18 PM writes...

Organon colleagues are very clever, hard working, and did indeed integrate with SP as much as they were demanded to do so. SP attitude was mostly live and let live. Organon was productive - why mess with success? Organon is being gutted now - the new owners' motto is to kill the goose laying decent, if not golden, eggs.

Apparently the only important thing is the "cookie-cutter" drug R&D process. A staggeringly convoluted, siloed, stifling process. Does anyone know of a company that did well focusing on their processes alone? Isn't the end goal of a product, hopefully one that improves the lot of some portion of suffering humanity, important? The big picture has been lost.

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79. CanChem on July 9, 2010 8:26 PM writes...

Can anyone lend a hand to another recently unemployed young medchemist in Boston? Anything?

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80. idiots on July 10, 2010 12:32 AM writes...

Maybe yo dont get paid more in Boston vs other US sites but you do get paid a hell of a lot more vs a European site

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81. Cost_of_Living on July 10, 2010 7:41 AM writes...

I don't understand how anyone could live in Boston if you DON'T get paid more...

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82. Anonymous on July 10, 2010 11:43 AM writes...

big hype about Boston! What has it produced?

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83. @79 CanChem on July 10, 2010 12:48 PM writes...

The Boston market (not talking about chicken) is really competitive. How many lead compounds did you synthesize? Who were your PhD and postdoc advisors? Do you need an H1-B? And more importantly why are you unemployed and who do you know?

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84. sesquiterpene on July 10, 2010 12:54 PM writes...

71:idiots, annoymous and anon

There is no big hype about Boston nor was I trying to indicate that Boston is better than any other site. The fact that Merck has made the 'recent' investment to be in Boston whether right or wrong, suggests a decision to close the site in the near future will not happen hence why it is still open (a rather large investment to be a PR stunt). It is correct Boston hasn't produced any drugs but it is the youngest of all the sites and therefore can not be really compared fairly to others, perhaps in another 5-10 years bearing in mind that past performance doesn’t predict future returns. It would be almost impossible for a 5-6 yr old research site to have a drug currently on the market even if it was discovered on the opening day of the site!

BTW not all big pharma companies in Boston pay substantially more than other cities as you can say exactly the same about San Francisco and San Diego. It all depends when you moved into Boston/joined a firm as the larger salaries only started when Novartis moved into Cambridge ca. 2005. Novartis to recruit/attract scientists to join paid substantially more >10-20% than any other firm in the area at the time. Employees at other firms didn’t get a pay rise just because Novartis were offering more money to scientists unless you decided to jump ship which many people did.

These decisions are made not on scientific merit of the sites but solely on numbers on an excel sheet and the vision of the exec management. I imagine there are many talented scientists at all of these research sites US and abroad. People just have to realise that a job isn’t for life and it is always best to work for a company within a biotech/science ‘hub’ where finding another position of equal merit is somewhat an easier endeavour.

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85. sesquiterpenoid on July 10, 2010 2:46 PM writes...

Merck had no qualms about abandoning its La Jolla operations after a short test drive. Pfizer didn't even use some of its new space in New London prior to dumping it. Neither company has expressed reservations about closing prestigious and productive legacy sites of acquired companies. I don't know how much these sites cost to establish and operate in comparison to Merck-Longwood, but the dollar amounts couldn't have been trivial. Therefore, who in the research ranks can say which R&D sites deserve to stay open? Its a good thing that Merck doesn't have any large third-world R&D sweatshops like Pfizer, BMS, GSK, and Novartis. Heaven forbid the number & quality of leads from Asian sites exceeds those of from the West. Throw in a little political maneuvering with voluntary repatriation and you get the unstoppable decline of Big Pharma in the US and Europe.

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86. @sesquiterpene on July 10, 2010 3:13 PM writes...

I don't think anyone is accusing you of being a Bostonist, but can you really vouch for the future operation of any Merck site? (Maybe you have direct contact with the Kim Regime.) Anyhow, perhaps a common error among Big Pharma companies was to gravitate towards these science hubs. Abbott and Eli Lilly don't really have huge research sites outside of the Midwest, yet they're still surviving. Also, instead of driving down salaries and diversifying the workforce, the growth of Boston Pharma inflated salaries prior to the recent recession and turned companies into bastions of certain academic pedigrees. Who knows, even the janitors may have Ivy League degrees!

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87. sesquiterpene on July 10, 2010 6:59 PM writes...

sesquiterpenoid, 86

The difference between the Boston site and the la jolla site is that the Boston site was built from scratch and wasn't a site that was acquired like the la jolla site.. cant remember the name of the firm. In addition closing a site that has just been established would be a very embarrassing move for Merck and not a move that probably that will be made until other pharma companies move out of Boston, this wont be for a while at least until the next hotpsot is found.

I do agree with #86 that big pharma now puts too much emphasis on which university did you come from and which supervisor BS.... this is definitely very much a US condition and is seen less frequently in Europe apart from the obvious Oxford/Cambridge names. I have seen this first hand at Merck during recruiting drives and definitely voiced my objection to people that appear book smart on paper but had under-developed interpersonal skills.

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88. AlchemistOrganique on July 10, 2010 7:49 PM writes...

@73: Thanks for the props and thread on your blog!

@86: Agreed on the pedigree issue. I'm not sure how it works for biologists, but for organic chemists having a famous advisor as a CV reference seems to catch the recruiter's attention, even if the rest of CV is skimpy.

@87: The La Jolla company was Sibia, acquired for chump change ($87 million). There is definitely way too much name-dropping in organic chemistry, both in academia and industry. "Obvious Oxford/Cambridge"...why no love for Bristol, Imperial, or Trinity? While it was noble of you to voice your objections to questionable hiring practices, the domination of Pharma R&D by select factions couldn't be prevented. Anyway, as far as new hotspots, I've been told, "Bangalore and Shanghai, baby!" Gotta get me some Rosetta Stone.

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89. Chemjobber on July 10, 2010 9:09 PM writes...

@CanChem: Interested in telling me your story? E-mail me at chemjobber -at- gmaildotcom. Confidentiality guaranteed.

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90. CanChem on July 12, 2010 12:29 PM writes...

@83 - MSc from the University of Waterloo in Canada; worked for a small contract medchem outfit for 2 years till the company closed down; 3 projects, hundreds of compounds, 1 lead; Canadian (so TN visa, not H1-B), but married to an American.

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91. alias on July 21, 2010 10:24 AM writes...

From The Globe and Mail:

Mr. Young said he was puzzled that the Montreal lab was chosen as one of those to be shuttered. “[It] was one of the most, if not the most, successful and productive sites within Merck, and on that basis it really baffles me.”

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92. Anonymous on July 23, 2010 11:04 PM writes...

Perhaps the disconnect between the MF Canada managers and their US counterparts facilitated the closure situation? Just a thought...

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93. Former Frosstie on July 26, 2010 7:52 PM writes...

Wonder how different things would've turned out if Tillyer hadn't been turned down for a PhD bench-level position by MF so many yrs ago... And if he hadn't been kicked out of the MF Pharm R&D lab for making a mess with a toxic compound while working as a visiting scientist in the late 80's/early 90's... If these weren't factors in the decision to shut down MF, they certainly didn't help...

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94. Anonymous on July 27, 2010 8:57 PM writes...

I'm Baffled that Bob Young is Baffled. He is a top thought leader in the med chem / pharmaceutical arena. Perhaps Bob is just being modest and not providing an accurate account. Safe harbors are always the easier solution...

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95. smitschagen on August 1, 2010 1:29 PM writes...

Closing Organon Research is a fine example of the criminal behaviour of US management who have only their own short term interests in mind
once again only the quarterly figures matter, not long term growth
value is being destroyed for the good of the bonusses of golddiggers
I am glad the Dutch board of directors block this stupid move
Remember Gekko: Greed is good.....this what comes from it

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