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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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March 8, 2011

The Pfizer Air Force

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Posted by Derek

Some nonplussed Pfizer employees have sent this item along to me. The company may have fewer employees, and fewer therapeutic areas, and fewer research sites - but at least now they have more helicopters. One step at a time.

Comments (29) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business and Markets


1. OldLabRat on March 8, 2011 10:21 AM writes...

For some perspective:
There used to be a trio of Pfizer jets that flew a round trip from Groton, CT to Morris Plains, NJ to Ann Arbor, MI to St. Louis, MO and back. One could get the early flight out of Groton, meet with Ann Arbor colleagues for several hours and return in time for dinner. For a while, the price was competitive with commercial flights; no security lines either.

I guess helicopters are a step in the right direction...

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2. entropyGain on March 8, 2011 11:04 AM writes...

under the category of "Judge people by their actions not words"

Shut down Sandwich and fire all the scientists.
Buy new helicopters so management can get in and out of NYC faster.

Anyone know the cost of the helicopters (depreciation & maintence?). Divide that by ~$250/FTE and you get the number of scientists it cost per helicopter....

Pure Rubbish!

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3. Energy Barrier on March 8, 2011 11:20 AM writes...

Will Pharma Management become the new bankers, in the sense of ' the most hated profession'?

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4. RB Woodweird on March 8, 2011 11:36 AM writes...

"We have offices and R&D centres around the world, so the mobility of our people is of critical importance," said Brad Cohen, Director of Maintenance, Pfizer.

I have some bad news and some good news. The bad news is that we are laying you off. The good news is that we are giving you a ride home in a JETCOPTER!

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5. HelicalZz on March 8, 2011 11:54 AM writes...

Anyone else thinking ....

Just wondering.


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6. D-list on March 8, 2011 12:19 PM writes...

I live by another large pharma R&D site which uses helicopters for travel. Had to be at VP level or above to use the service and I was told everytime someone stepped into it, it cost 5k. In the months prior to a Rx recall, there was a frenzy of helicopter activity. It has recently started to ramp up again, so I would dump their stock.

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7. p on March 8, 2011 12:23 PM writes...

Yes, HelicalZz, that is exactly the image that flashed in my mind when I read this.

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8. Mr Self Destruct on March 8, 2011 12:23 PM writes...

I read that the helicopters are being bought, pre-owned, for $13-15M each. But at least they got the upgraded service plan with them.

Someone should remind Brad Cohen that while PFE has offices around the world, helicopters are not exactly the best transportation mode for going across an ocean....


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9. pete on March 8, 2011 12:34 PM writes...

@5 HelicalZz

I laughed -- spot on!

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10. Nick K on March 8, 2011 12:40 PM writes...

@HelicalZz: Thank you, made my day! Very eloquent, no words needed.

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11. johnny on March 8, 2011 12:42 PM writes...

#1: These jets were rented, and they were used to ferry ordinary employees from one site to another, not a bad thing as far as I saw when I worked there.
The helicopters are another ball of wax altogether, reserved for the convenience of upper management. That they would announce this increase in the chopper fleet right after shuttering Sandwich is unconscionable, and shows how disconnected they are from reality.

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12. George S. Patton on March 8, 2011 12:48 PM writes...

You can't have too much air support.

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13. Hap on March 8, 2011 1:00 PM writes...

No, but bombing India or China is considered an act of war in most circles, and our military is a little busy right now to take on those kind of land forces.

Besides, why bomb the rest of pharma when they're busy committing suicide? Unless helicopter rides are a way of deselecting and improving your own management - "Abyssinia, Ian."

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14. Chemjobber on March 8, 2011 2:43 PM writes...

And Helical wins the thread!

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15. JasonP on March 8, 2011 2:59 PM writes...

Hey just like America...all American really: screw the future, let's blow our money on some big shiny weapons of war!

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16. Muammar al-Gaddafi on March 8, 2011 3:03 PM writes...

I hope they will remember the no-fly zone once the dictators start dropping bombs on the revolting peasants

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17. Anonymous on March 8, 2011 3:36 PM writes...

Anyone ever heard of a video conference? Time to dump the stock.

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18. Rock on March 8, 2011 3:49 PM writes...

Although the decision to announce the helicopter purchase right after the site closure and staff cuts was ill advised, the dollar amount pales in comparison to other poor decisions. Exubera is estimated to have cost the company ~$4 Billion (including a buyout of Adventis for $1.3B after it was already on the market doing poorly!). That one failure could support 16,000 employees for a year. Add to that the $5-10B paid out to take over several small companies with no return on investment (e.g. Esperion etc.), and you start to add up to real money.

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19. Paddy on March 8, 2011 3:53 PM writes...

Can't wait till they appear on dovebid. One careful owner

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20. Anonymous on March 8, 2011 4:11 PM writes...

There's some great irony at the bottom of the press release. Pratt & Whitney has a statement touting their R&D....At least they can do it with a straight face.

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21. Test pilot on March 8, 2011 6:49 PM writes...

No doubt the helicopters have an ample supply of parachutes...

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22. Crash Cash on March 8, 2011 8:23 PM writes...

Beware shareholders with shoulder-fired missiles. I'm just sayin'

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23. Anonymous on March 8, 2011 8:50 PM writes...

I am having a vision: there they are, the Pfizer management team with their golden parachutes, jumping into the helicopters a top the NYC bunker call Pfizer HQ. They are leaving the company in ruins after decades of mismanagement. There are dead and dying scientists everywhere. Admins and children are storming the gates begging the execs to save them by letting them on board. The CEO,s guards push them off the landing skids as the chopper heads off to the land of CEO plenty. Oh wait! Those were last days of Saigon another mismanaged effort were the generals got metals nice pensions and the grunts got killed for their efforts

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25. Anonymous on March 8, 2011 11:04 PM writes...

Jeffrey Kindler (Pfizer CEO) had a total 2009 compensation package of 13.7 million dollars. Obviously for people like that time is much more valuable than it is for you or I. You can't expect them to be stuck in traffic while on their way to something important...

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26. Anonymous on March 8, 2011 11:08 PM writes...

Roche also had a heli back in the days..and if you saw it , it really looked like hell. A nasty old blue and white double prop. that used to land in their "Route 3" parking lot on their heli pad (basically a small fenced off area that all the employees had to walk around in order to get to the gate). Pain in the A$$. But that's roche! So where's the heli now? Decommissioned perhaps?? How about the employee jobs and the fate of the Nutley site and its bogus R&D non sense? Shutdown over there is eminent...time to get the resume on!

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27. oldtimer on March 9, 2011 2:02 PM writes...

Glaxo had an airforce of (7?)Gulfstreams until Sykes became CEO and shot them down. Has it reappeared do you know?

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28. oldtimer on March 9, 2011 2:05 PM writes...

Glaxo had an airforce of (7?)Gulfstreams until Sykes became CEO and shot them down. Has it reappeared do you know?

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29. Paul on March 17, 2011 4:35 AM writes...

Thank goodness they didn't purchase the Apache model with the Vulcan option. " Dave, you're pfired. Now just stand a little more to the left...."

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