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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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December 1, 2010

Novartis, Meet Novartis (Job Cuts or Not?)

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Posted by Derek

Here we have a Reuters story from November 21: "Novartis Says No Plans to Cut Thousands of Jobs". This was in response to a Swiss newspaper article that said the company was planning something similar to what Roche has done.

And here we have an article from nine days later: "Novartis Plans to Cut 1,400 Drug Sales Jobs in US". To be sure, this isn't, technically, "thousands". And Novartis may well not be thinking along exactly the same lines as the Roche plan. But still.

Comments (20) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business and Markets


1. Anonalso on December 1, 2010 2:24 PM writes...

This is just the tip of the iceberg for Novartis based on what my friends there are saying. They are prepping big time for how the death of Diovan will kill their bottom line.

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2. Anonymous on December 1, 2010 3:29 PM writes...

The good news is they're hiring for research positions.

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3. BoredChemist on December 1, 2010 4:06 PM writes...

@2: Yeah, for how long? My friend didn't make it to one year at Merck before he and dozens of his coworkers were purged.

Derek, something tells me that those Labs of the Future will be selectively under-populated.

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4. xbayareachemist on December 1, 2010 4:30 PM writes...

Perhaps a few of the Elan scientists could move to Novartis - 40% cutback in research at Elan.

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5. Novartis Guy on December 2, 2010 7:56 AM writes...

Yes, here at Novartis the future looks bad (read hopeless). We have a lot of failures recently in preclinical portfolio.

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6. emjeff on December 2, 2010 8:36 AM writes...

Surely no one over the age of 25 pays any attention to company press releases?

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7. quintus on December 2, 2010 10:53 AM writes...

@5 I agree, until the Coca-Cola managers get out of china and re-establish a reasonable Kilo-lab and development structure things will only get worse.
It might also help if they get their heads out of their asses

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8. Snowpeak on December 2, 2010 12:37 PM writes...

I would like to disagree with @5 & @7. I believe Novartis will be one of the best pharmaceutical giants in the next five years though I agree that the whole pharmaceutical industry in US looks discouraging. It doesn’t matter that you have a lot failures in preclinical stage, what matters is in clinical stage. Novartis’ pipeline looks very strong.

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9. quintus on December 2, 2010 1:01 PM writes...

@8, sorry you do not know what you are talking about. Novartis is panicking about Divan going off patent, they are relying on Tekturna, as one example.
They need to get out of Chine, stop the management crap and get on with the job in hand.
Yesterday no one was available due to meetings to discuss end of year assessments! Where is the drug discovery, development there?
The managers have got it wrong

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10. pete on December 2, 2010 1:35 PM writes...

@ 4 xbayareachemist

Is that Elan layoff new ?

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11. hn on December 2, 2010 2:12 PM writes...

I recently applied to a position in Cambridge. How's the mood there among the scientists?

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12. Inovorich on December 2, 2010 6:45 PM writes...

Novartis Cambridge have been hiring quite a lot in the last year. Horsham in th UK seems to be shrinking but mostly natural wastage.

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13. Inovorich on December 2, 2010 6:50 PM writes...

Oh and . . . These are sales jobs. The whole arena for pharma sales has changed and so these layoffs don't necessarily relate to company outlook or "panic" about patent expirations, more to how the whole industry is altering how they have to market their products.

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14. quintus on December 3, 2010 10:48 AM writes...

@13, I know these are sales jobs, but why sales? Because they are panicking about Diovan going off patent, hence lower sales etc.
The other cuts are coming, wait and see.

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15. AgreeWithQuintus on December 3, 2010 2:32 PM writes...

@12/13: While you can currently sit smug with your perceived corporate indispensability, take a moment to ruminate upon this modified version of Martin Niemöller's famous account:

They came first for the salespeople,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a salesperson.

Then they came for the process chemists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a process chemist.

Then they came for the med chemists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a med chemist.

Then they came for me
and by that time no one was left to speak up.

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16. Anonymous on December 4, 2010 8:43 PM writes...

And there is no plan for Roche to merge with Novartis???....hummmmm....If you check the news, apparently the Roche CEO stated (at his recent Boston tea party) that he expects rapid consolidation in the industry. Given Roche's inability to overcome its political etc... gridlock, is there a message in there??? The merger result would be a big swiss pharma empire that may outsource everything. Don't forget the highly likely absorption of the Nutley NJ site into Genentech in the near term. Everyone sees it coming....the recent announcement of a 38% headcount reduction in Nutley is the sign. My advice to all in Nutley is "be prepared"...get your feelers out there...

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17. @16 on December 5, 2010 1:52 PM writes...

How did you hear about a 38% headcount reduction at Nutley? There's no mention of such a huge cut anywhere in the blogosphere or business newswires.

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18. Annette Bak on December 6, 2010 2:24 PM writes...

Oh and . . . These are sales jobs. The whole arena for pharma sales has changed and so these layoffs don't necessarily relate to company outlook or "panic" about patent expirations, more to how the whole industry is altering how they have to market their products

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19. Anonymous on December 6, 2010 7:11 PM writes...

@ 17 here you me this is a death blow for the nutley site. Bleak prospects given that there are >8000 employees at Genentech.

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20. Ed on December 8, 2010 8:13 AM writes...

More big job cuts at Exelixis too apparently.

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