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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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October 19, 2011

Reorg at Merck? (And a Complaint about Wall Street)

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Posted by Derek

I haven't had any chance to verify this, but I've heard from a source that I have no reason to doubt that Merck may be announcing details of a reorganization in R&D later this week. Anyone else heard the same?

And on a similar topic, here's a post from John LaMattina asking what many people have at one point or another: how come Wall Street analysts get so much influence over how much a drug organization spends on R&D? His examples are Merck, Lilly, and Amgen, and his take is:

Now, I am all for monitoring R&D budgets to maximize the returns from these investments. And I am all for accountability – asking the R&D organization to deliver new candidates to the pipeline, having formal goals with rigorous deadlines, and for running clinical trials as expeditiously as possible while keeping a close eye on costs. But for Wall Street to reward a company for lowering R&D spending and attack those that want to commit to R&D is absurd. Like it or not, R&D IS the engine that powers a pharmaceutical company. It is also a high-risk endeavor. Furthermore, given all of the hurdles that now exist especially with regard to ensuring safety and having sufficient novelty to justify pricing, R&D is more expensive than ever. But, if you want to succeed, you have to invest – substantially. There are no short cuts.

Wall Street's answer, which may be hard to refute, is that if you want the access to capital that the stock market provides, then you have to accept the backseat driving as part of the deal. But do we get the same degree of it as other industries, or more?

Comments (71) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business and Markets


COMMENTS

1. anonymous on October 19, 2011 6:03 AM writes...

Merck Research Laboratories announcing Biology changes Tues / Wed; Chemistry Thurs of this week. So far, it isn't pretty.

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2. John Spevacek on October 19, 2011 7:37 AM writes...

You get the "backseat driving" that you "deserve". If you show that you can take someone's money, do some good R & D and get a payoff, then no one will question you. But if you end up with nothing to show for it, then you better expect some attention in the future.

Given pharma's recent track record, I'm not surprised at all that investors want more say in pharma's R & D spending.

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3. Jon on October 19, 2011 8:43 AM writes...

I saw an argument somewhere that basically said that there are two types that invest in stocks. One is the stakeholders, those that buy and hold and would be happy to see reasonable growth over time (even if every quarter isn't profitable), especially in a dividend-paying stock. So if you think The other is the shareholders, which only care about growth quarter to quarter and don't care what a company does as long as the EPS goes up.

The argument was basically that the economy as a whole is screwed up in part because of this mentality that every quarter must be better than the last, no matter what it does in the long term. I've heard it called the MBA-ization of the economy.

I'm sure this is probably naive and/or oversimplified, but it seems to me to explain the behavior of the street and the effects of large institutional investors and high-frequency trading.

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4. You're Pfizered on October 19, 2011 8:46 AM writes...

Other news. Abbott is separating into two companies, basically splitting of their pharmaceutical division into its own company...

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5. biotechbaumer on October 19, 2011 9:03 AM writes...

Do Pfizer, Merck, etc. still need to raise capital? Aren't they sitting on billions of dollars?

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6. Ed on October 19, 2011 9:10 AM writes...

#5 - They may have billions but that makes them an exceptionally good credit risk, hence they can issue long-term bonds with very low coupons to finance ongoing operations and dividends (often without paying repatriation taxes on overseas profits)

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7. another chemist on October 19, 2011 9:11 AM writes...

Gosh, are there still enough *scientists* left at Merck to downsize? Pretty soon they will have to start cutting janitors and receptionists!

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8. My 0.02 on October 19, 2011 9:13 AM writes...

@5,

The billions of dollars they are sitting on are shareholders' money. Big shareholders are, for most part, institutional investors - Wall Street type. That is why Wall Street has very big say on R&D spending.

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9. My 0.02 on October 19, 2011 9:18 AM writes...

@5,

The billions of dollars they are sitting on are shareholders' money. Big shareholders are, for most part, institutional investors - Wall Street type. That is why Wall Street has very big say on R&D spending.

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10. MolecularGeek on October 19, 2011 9:21 AM writes...

If you intend to become a backseat driver to improve the performance of the stock that you just bought, wouldn't it help for you to actually know more about the business that the company is in than the people who work there?

#3: Sing it, brother. When everyone's life savings is tied in in relatively opaque and packaged investment instruments, the only thing driving the market is the need to keep growing every quarter or the institutional money managers will find another company that does. The decline of thoughtful and sane investing in the name of higher yields, with which to draw more sheep to the shearing, is one of the great silent tragedies of economics over the past 30 years.

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11. Hap on October 19, 2011 9:32 AM writes...

I guess I wonder that if the cost of capital is the pursuit of short-term gains (a pursuit which is likely to destroy the companies which it funds), isn't it a pointless pursuit? It'd be sort of like your crack dealer getting a cut of your wages in turn for more crack - he can make a lot of money in the short term, but there is no long term.

If funding from Wall Street is destructive to companies' ability to do anything useful, then either you're going to get an economy of companies that don't do anything (and eventually a dead nation) or Wall Street is going to have to alter its funding model (and probably how they pay their talent).

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12. Curious Wavefunction on October 19, 2011 10:00 AM writes...

Wall Street dictating how much companies should spend on drug R & D makes sense. Because everyone knows that most of the folks on The Street are chemistry and biology PhDs with stellar track records in pharma and a deep knowledge of the science behind drug discovery.

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13. Vader on October 19, 2011 10:10 AM writes...

He who pays the piper calls the tune. It's true everywhere, not just pharmaceuticals. I had a minion who worked for a time in a software company, and it was just as true there -- the price of getting some venture capital was letting the venture capitalists call the shots.

You can take one of two messages from this:

You can conclude the investors are wrong. The solution is to explain how pharmaceuticals really work and make a case for doing R&D in a profitable way.

You can include the investors are right. That is, investment in R&D research is a lousy investment right now. Frankly, I see lots of reasons to believe that in the present climate.

Short-term versus long-term? Way too much uncertainty out there right now for me to blame people for being hesitant to invest their own money in a long-term strategy.

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14. Hap on October 19, 2011 10:17 AM writes...

But long-term is inherent to pharmaceutical research - the times for discovery, trials, and approval determine that. You can be nervous about whether the long-term management of pharma is good enough to risk your money with it, but to expect/demand short-term profits from pharma is at best suboptimal and at worst the financial equivalent of a murder-suicide.

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15. Anonymous on October 19, 2011 10:21 AM writes...

@ #9

In the UK, at least, shareholders technically don't own the company. I don't know to what extent that translates into whether or not they own a company's assets, but I would hazard a guess that the company owns its cash reserves, and may or may not decide to offer part of them to its shareholders.

I don't know the degree to which it is different in the US.

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16. bbooooooya on October 19, 2011 10:29 AM writes...

"everyone knows that most of the folks on The Street are chemistry and biology PhDs with stellar track records in pharma and a deep knowledge of the science behind drug discovery." I assume that is sarcasm?

Most wall street healthcare PM/analysts have at least a PhD or an MD and do understand the science very well.

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17. Jon on October 19, 2011 10:33 AM writes...

Don't forget the small investor/large investor divide. I'm a very small investor. I put my money into mutual funds or asset allocation funds because it's the best way to shield my money for the next 40 years until I can tap into the 401k and IRA for retirement. I'm willing to take some risk now short-term in pursuit of long-term gains, but I'd prefer steady growth overall and a long-term strategy. But I have to use a very large investor to do it, and what I would like to see from a company as a small investor is not what the fund company would like to see as a large investor.

Now, I do have some shorter-term holdings in both mutual funds and individual stocks. My parents found a mutual fund that had been bought years ago as part of my college fund that, as a relatively small asset bought once, had been forgotten about. I would like to see some short-term gain on that so I can sell it, but it's not a big deal. Hey, it's (to me) free money at any price. I also have some company stock bought through the purchase plan. I would like it to get back up to where it was when I bought it (and I bought quite low) at the end of the two-year period. But again, I work here and want the company to look at the long-term, not what the EPS looks like next quarter. The EPS going up does me no good if they do it by firing me.

I'm for a small transaction tax. Wouldn't have to be much (a quarter percent is the number I've seen proposed) to make a lot of money and hopefully put some brakes on the volatility. I find that stock prices are pretty much useless to me right now as a guide to a company's value and they don't seem to actually reflect what the fundamental numbers are. If the stock price is not an accurate signal of anything, what's the point of worrying about it?

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18. Vasili on October 19, 2011 10:40 AM writes...

@7: Janitors, recepcionists, cooks, security people, etc are probably not belonging to the organization but are non-Merck employees from an outsourced company. No cuts possible there.

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19. luysii on October 19, 2011 10:42 AM writes...

Well, if what you say is true, then a short term trade would be to buy Merck now and sell it on the news. Current price 11:40 AM EST 19 Oct is 32.85.

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20. luysii on October 19, 2011 10:44 AM writes...

Well, if what you say is true, then a short term trade would be to buy Merck now and sell it on the news. Current price 11:40 AM EST 19 Oct is 32.85.

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21. luysii on October 19, 2011 10:47 AM writes...

Well, if what you say is true, then a short term trade would be to buy Merck now and sell it on the news. Current price 11:40 AM EST 19 Oct is 32.85.

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22. RM on October 19, 2011 10:52 AM writes...

The big problem is that the short term swings in stock price are due to short-term investors. Today's stock price reflects what the majority of people buying and selling it today are valuing it at, not what the majority of *owners* (e.g. someone who bought it last year and intends to sell it in three years) are valuing it at.

So even if 90% of the stock holders are in it for the long haul and agree that R&D spending is vital for the long-term health of the company, the 10% who are day trading or only holding it for a month will give you a price bump that makes it look like investors agree with the decision to cut R&D.

What Pharma needs is a board with a backbone, one who won't sacrifice long-term stability for short-term superficial gains, and voting shareholders who support them in that.

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23. bbooooooya on October 19, 2011 11:11 AM writes...

"everyone knows that most of the folks on The Street are chemistry and biology PhDs with stellar track records in pharma and a deep knowledge of the science behind drug discovery." I assume that is sarcasm?

Most wall street healthcare PM/analysts have at least a PhD or an MD and do understand the science very well.

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24. Chemist turned hedgey on October 19, 2011 11:11 AM writes...

@12,

While your irony is not entirely misplaced, not everyone in Wall St is completely ignorant of the pharma industry. Indeed, virtually nobody without a relevant PhD and/or industry experience would go anywhere near the sector unless dragged kicking and screaming, in my experience....

From a PhD organic chemist, ex-industry, ex-banking and now at a hedge fund

Permalink to Comment

25. Chemjobber on October 19, 2011 11:14 AM writes...

Hedgey -- want to talk about it? E-mail me at chemjobber -at- gmaildotcom. Confidentially guaranteed.

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26. My 0.02 on October 19, 2011 11:32 AM writes...

@22 RM,

Very good point. But in reality, day- / HF trading accounts for somewhere around 70+% of the daily volumes on all three major exchanges (NYSE, NASDAQ, AMEX). There is no question that is what drives the stock price.
As for "backbone", good luck with that. The board is elected by shareholders. Large shareholders have a big say. Take MRK, let us say a long investor own 10,000 shares, which is a good chunk of money. But MRK has 3.08B shares outstanding. That gives him/her 0.0003% say. Top institutional investor of MRK is Capital World Investors (what a name), which owns 6.45%. I highly doubt that MBA suits even MD's, PhD's at Capital World Investors care about what happens 5-10 years down the road. Their pay and bonus structure dictates short-term nature of their actions. After all, they are paid based on performance of their funds THAT YEAR, not 5-10 years down the road.

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27. RD on October 19, 2011 11:48 AM writes...

I had talked to an old colleague a few months ago who is now at Merck. She sounded uneasy. I think there have been hints and allegations in the works for awhile now.

When it finally comes out, it will be like vomiting. you know you're sick but the nausea is gone temporarily.

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28. RD on October 19, 2011 12:02 PM writes...

Hedgey: Then I can only conclude that you guys have been captured by your new industry because I can't imagine how else you would have gotten it so spectacularly wrong in the past 15 years.

You need to spend a couple of months back in the lab and see how difficult it is to get the resources you need without having a business degree or to even get your equipment maintained by someone who knows what he is doing and isn't on a contract that cut his salary by 30% so that urgency on your part does not constitute an emergency on his part. Or better yet, see what it's like to get the IT department to break their borglike resistance to installing your scientific applications before the licenses expire.

It is really hard to get work done anymore without endless negotiations and triaging which iteration of the expermental process you can do without.

Maybe instead of putting all of the burden on research without giving them any of the authority to get things done, you might want to stop accepting the excuses from the executives who just can't seem to get the labrats to understand how much money they are costing the company.

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29. Micro-shareholder on October 19, 2011 12:04 PM writes...

No agument with the source of capital having a say in how it is spent. But what does having a say really mean? Yes, you can have a big stick, but that does not mean you should hit yourself on the head with it.

I think that a big part of the motivation on the funding side is a fear of failure. Call it short term goals if you like, although that does not have to be fear of failure.

"Everybody knows that pharma is unproductive". Well at least that's the mantra. It certainly is much less than 15 years ago from an ROI perspective, but productivity is more than that in a long-timeline and high risk endeavor.

Still, the only concensus is 'It aint workin'. Where does that leave the people pulling the cash levers? DO IT DIFFERENTLY! they say.

Sounds obvious, but *what should the difference be*!? There is soo much angst over this, understandably, but I think there is far too much of equating different with better.

Sometimes different = worse! And, usually the quicker the insight on how to be different the greater the odds of it just being worse...

Now we can ask, who might have the best appreciation of the impact of those difference on the risk/reward equation? The life science MD/PhDs in VC funds, in big institutional investors or those with a track record of getting novel drugs out?

Increasingly we don't get to compare since more and more of the latter category are in hedge funds.

The biggest difference seems to be that the funders want Pharma to put fewer $ 'at risk' in the Discovery part. They couch it as saying it needs to be more productive, but in reality all they are saying is I am afraid of that exposure.

Fine, we are all reducing the exposure. But, the experiment we are all running is whether or not this will decrease risk. Let's think about that one. We will spend less on a highly risky activity, one where having and understanding data is key. Now we are all going to hope that this makes success more likely.

"Thunk": that's the sound of a big club hitting yourself on the head... It's different alright.

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30. Pete on October 19, 2011 12:47 PM writes...

The problem is that time scales in Pharma and Wall Street are not in synch. On this side of the Pond it is said that long-term in The City means after lunch.

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31. Anonymouse on October 19, 2011 1:18 PM writes...

If you don't want to be dictated by Wall Street on how much money to spend on what then stop relying on them to invest in you and be your shareholders. Take yourself private. There are examples of reasonably large pharma companies that are private, e.g. Boehringer Ingelheim.

Once private you can blow up your money on whatever you like.

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32. Chemjobber on October 19, 2011 1:58 PM writes...

B-I has experienced layoffs recently, correct?

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33. bbooooooya on October 19, 2011 2:23 PM writes...

"I put my money into mutual funds or asset allocation funds because it's the best way to shield my money for the next 40 years"

Maybe. $100 invested in the S&P in Oct. 1998 is now worth $100. Adjusting for inflation, you've got $72. Take out fees the MF company charged you to do truly nothing, and you've got even less. There's no a priori reason stocks have to go up over extended periods of time, regardless of what the good looking sales rep from Fido or Vanguard tells you.

"I'm for a small transaction tax."

Who pays for that? Investors in mutual and hedge funds, which is pretty much anyone with a 401k. Not saying it's a bad idea, just that it's no different that increasing income tax.

"The problem is that time scales in Pharma and Wall Street are not in synch"

Nope, not at all. Be boffo if someone would come up with a solution to this. Don't see it happening, though. Easier to do with executive compensation (i.e. make bonuses stock based on vesting over a looooooong time), but for a fungible stock market, tough to do.

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34. Aspirin on October 19, 2011 2:32 PM writes...

Most wall street healthcare PM/analysts have at least a PhD or an MD and do understand the science very well.

They may or may not have PhDs or MDs but I doubt they understand the basic science very well or counsel industry to actually retain those experienced scientists for achieving long-term growth. In fact their minds are probably more likely than those of most others to be clouded by the false promise of bottomless profit.

At the very least those PhDs may be like the physics PhD quants who everyone thought would save capitalism, until they destroyed it.

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35. bbooooooya on October 19, 2011 2:42 PM writes...

"but I doubt they understand the basic science very well"

You'd be surprised.....no way to prove this, or course. I think there are a lot of PhDs/MDs in pharma/biotech who don't understand the basic science that well.

"everyone thought would save capitalism, until they destroyed it."

Capitalism has been destroyed? I hadn't heard that, Comrade.

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36. luysii on October 19, 2011 3:00 PM writes...

Doing away with in house research is like the airline standup comic Shelley Berman used to talk about. Their airfares were cheap because they did away with frills like maintenance.

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37. dvizard on October 19, 2011 3:30 PM writes...

> Given pharma's recent track record, I'm not surprised at all that investors want more say in pharma's R & D spending.

One might argue that "pharma's recent track record" is already partly the fault of Wall Street-dictated short-term profit hunting...

On the other hand, I don't think Pharma is the only industry to suffer from these effects. It's just that we don't see the effects in other industries that much because "we" are focused on our own business and mostly don't care about what other industries are suffering from.

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38. Morten G on October 19, 2011 4:18 PM writes...

I'm sorry but I'm siding with Wall Street on this one. Small pharma / biotech, i.e. companies exclusively founded to do research has been a bottomless money pit while big pharma has actually paid off on average. There is no incentive to spend money on research when you can in-license products for much less than they are actually worth.
Personally, I think this effect is due to the high number of failures in small pharma / biotech - if 100 companies exist, I invest in twenty of them and one of them makes it I will want my twenty company investment plus risk back but I won't be going for the 100 company investment. And while my risk might have been valued large enough to cover the 1 in 100 chance before I had a success, after success my risk should be smaller since I know I am making my investment back and then some.

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39. Phil on October 19, 2011 5:07 PM writes...

I just read an article about Amgen's reorg, and apparently their revenue is $15 billion, their R&D spending was $3 billion, and their profits were $5 billion. Overall, that's a 33% profit margin, with R&D investment returning what, 166%?

How is that "flat" as the article described it? Are we comparing it to the profits reported by financial institutions leading up to 2007? Because those were necessarily inflated and nearly led to a collapse of the world's economy.

Who decides how much profit is enough? Oh yeah, it's never enough, and that's the problem. The infinite pie is a lie.

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40. Sisyphus on October 19, 2011 5:17 PM writes...

The pharma half of ABT will be merged or bought within 5 yrs. Who will the suitor be, LLY or PFE? ABT was one of the strong ones. Slow and steady is the way to make a business but the ADHD MBA's missed that lesson in B-school.

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41. Chrispy on October 19, 2011 6:08 PM writes...

Amgen laid off about 380 today in research.

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42. Anonymous on October 19, 2011 6:12 PM writes...

So....Merck is trying to bang some bongos in support of the occupy wall street movement but let's see what they do. Talk is cheap. My guess, they succumb to wall street and cut the R&D budget very significantly. At least they recognize that companies are at the mercy of Wall Street. They see what's wrong!!!

What if "the street" wasn't there (didn't exist)?? Who would give a rat's a$$ about "meeting expectations". The pressures on US companies by the nasty analyst rats on WS are what's driving companies to lay off workers.

Bottom line...get rid of wall street and their "expectations" and companies will be free...and the economy will grow.

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43. Anonymous on October 19, 2011 6:15 PM writes...

@41 Was it small molecule research? My guess is that's where they were heading with this...

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44. Anonymous on October 19, 2011 6:31 PM writes...

Actually, It's La Matinna (Pfizer?) banging the bongos on behalf of Merck...my mistake...

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45. pete on October 19, 2011 6:32 PM writes...

@4 Chrispy

Amgen details:
www.vcstar.com/news/2011/oct/19/amgen-is-cutting-226-jobs-in-thousand-oaks/

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46. Anonymous on October 19, 2011 6:38 PM writes...

All public companies should consider becoming private. I know this sounds weird and reverse logic. It would allow them to take your money and do what you want with it...at the same time the cut the wall street crap out of their equations... hummm

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47. Ed Scorpio on October 19, 2011 7:19 PM writes...

"everyone knows that most of the folks on The Street are chemistry and biology PhDs with stellar track records in pharma and a deep knowledge of the science behind drug discovery."

I also assume that is sarcasm. Let me rewrite that to..

"everyone knows that most of the folks in pharma with their chemistry and biology PhDs and track records in academia have a deep knowledge that fails to deliver in the area of drug discovery. But they sure can flush huge amounts of money down the tube without generating any assets for the companies that employ them! And, boy, can they call meetings, and meetings, and more meetings!"

Quality scientific data is a key asset that has been lost on most in this industry.

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48. Anonymous on October 19, 2011 7:26 PM writes...

@47-53...get your head out of your a$$ dude. Take a walk down to the occupy wall street area and start talking your crap. You won't last long wanker!

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49. Anonymous on October 19, 2011 9:06 PM writes...

41. 20% Chemists (16 out of 76) and 14 PK (20%?). Sure that their job will be outsourced.

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50. Anonymous on October 19, 2011 9:13 PM writes...

41. 20% Chemists (16 out of 76) and 14 PK (20%?). Sure that their job will be outsourced.

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51. MDACC Student on October 20, 2011 1:56 AM writes...

What are your thoughts on raised NDA priority for companies that only report earnings annually as opposed to quarterly to discourage these short term wall street issues? Perhaps another incentive? Or just let the companies canabalize each others assets with biotechs being a wildcard that works every now and then?

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52. Anonymous on October 20, 2011 5:33 AM writes...

Not too keen on the tone, but you can't really argue with Ed Scorpio's point IMO...

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53. londonlad on October 20, 2011 5:36 AM writes...

'Wall Street dictating how much companies should spend on drug R & D makes sense. Because everyone knows that most of the folks on The Street are chemistry and biology PhDs with stellar track records in pharma and a deep knowledge of the science behind drug discovery.'

Just how many people in pharma, now, have a stellar track record? I can think of about 50, tops.

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54. Priscilla on October 20, 2011 6:29 AM writes...

The Layoffs are not pretty and, not surprising, the ax is falling heavy on Legacy S-P at KW. 30%-50% in some assay areas due to outsourcing. The relocation of Chemistry to RY away from the Biologists is sure to help the drug discovery process. Rumour has it 90 out of 160 won't even make it from KW to RY. Good luck to them today.

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55. bbooooooya on October 20, 2011 7:03 AM writes...

"raised NDA priority for companies that only report earnings annually as opposed to quarterly to discourage these short term wall street issues"

Would have to rewrite SEC acts of 1933 and 1934. Zero chance this will happen, and even if it did wouldn't likely chance anything: analysts would still track weekly sales data.

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56. Ed on October 20, 2011 7:11 AM writes...

#55 - they could always re-list in London, no quarterly requirements here!

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57. Anonymous on October 20, 2011 7:26 AM writes...

I have heard that Merck increased 100FTE at Wuxi in October

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58. Curious Wavefunction on October 20, 2011 8:37 AM writes...

#47 and #53: You are assuming that these people with deep knowledge actually get the time and resources to harness their knowledge for long-term productive goals. Do they? (And meetings? You must be talking about management which I am not)

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59. Hap on October 20, 2011 10:12 AM writes...

47: Pot, meet kettle. Between quants and the bailout, your business has managed to flush over $1T down the toilet (and still get bonuses for it), most in the last three years. That's a hell of a burn rate to be complaining about extravagant research costs.

The other problem is, why exactly isn't there good enough scientific talent, information, or output in pharma to justify R+D spending? Well, laying off the people who actually knew how to do it (or at least who were there when it was done) might be a contribution. Eventually, people get the idea that good scientists don't look so good on the unemployment line, and behave accordingly. Even people who might have done good science and who intend to do so have a hard time if no one who knows how to do it is left.

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60. Curious on October 20, 2011 5:56 PM writes...

So what went down in chemistry at Merck today?

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61. Anonymous on October 20, 2011 6:39 PM writes...

@ Hap 59. Amen. You nailed it!!

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62. anon on October 20, 2011 8:11 PM writes...

To everyone who has been affected by the recent restructuring at Merck and Amgen, I pray that Divine Providence will keep you in good health and spirit. Having gone through a layoff myself last year, I believe that even the smallest shred of optimism goes a long way in searching for a new career.

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63. beenthere on October 20, 2011 8:57 PM writes...

@62: Well said! These are difficult times for the industry. I was also went through a big pharma layoff and am struggling to get on my feet. Prayers to all effected!

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64. Chemjobber on October 21, 2011 12:40 PM writes...

Good call, 62.

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65. SensibleChemist on October 21, 2011 4:22 PM writes...

No.7 another chemist-Gosh you're a fool. Why make a dtistinction against receptionists or janitors. I'm a chemist who during my 17 yrs at Merck brought a drug to market and three others to the clinic-yes, a high rate of success, but it didn't make me a cock who belittles non scientists-I bet you couldn't hack a real job for a week like receptionist or janitor who work harder than scientists and have families to look after also-you pratt!

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66. Anonymous on October 21, 2011 10:18 PM writes...

Merck management finally succeeded in uniting the two legacy chemistry groups - into complete apathy. The "leadership" has been so abysmally bad for two years that it no longer matters which company one came from. Leg-SP are being hit harder, but way too many people just don't care. The level of disgust is so high that many people from both sides raised hands - even without a job to go to! Think about it: a bunch of chemists are willing to take a package (leg MK or leg-SP) and try to find work rather than stay on the Mercktanic.

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67. Anonymous on October 21, 2011 10:21 PM writes...

I am waiting for WuXi to buy Merck. I give it another 2-3 years.

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68. @65 SensibleChemist on October 21, 2011 11:45 PM writes...

Dear Madam/Sir:

This is "another chemist".

I fail understand how you've come to the conclusion that my sarcasm in post #7 was meant to convey disdain for non-scientists. I have nothing but utmost respect for the janitors, glassware cleaners, receptionists, security guards, requisition personnel, machinists, and other non-scientists at my company who make it possible for the scientists to perform research.

I intended to highlight the hypocrisy in claims made by the management at Merck (and at other Big Pharma) that it values science while conducting the wholesale liquidation of its researchers. Furthermore, I meant to hyperbolize the drastic reductions in research staff at Merck since the merger with Schering-Plough. The scientist roster at the combined company is much smaller than those of its progenitors. In response to the Merck management's assertions that research costs had to be brought under control, I asked rhetorically if there were any scientists left to downsize. My unstated implication was that soon Pharma companies would consist soley of Inner-Party managers and non-research support staff.

In response to your baseless assertion that I can't hack a "real" job, please allow me to list some of my glamorous, small-town occupations prior to becoming a professional chemist: waiter, cashier, short-order cook, delivery man, dishwasher, valet, grass-cutter (wouldn't call myself a landscape artist), and science tutor. Rest assured that I was able to "hack" those jobs for more than one week. I admit, however, that I don't have to look after any kids...yet. However, when I do have kids, I will have no qualms about encouraging them to experience such glamorous occupations. It's too bad that there's not a huge demand for corn-detasslers within the city.

It would be gauche of me to compare my paltry work experience in the chemical industry to your illustrious career at Merck. Let me guess, the drug that you single-handedly brought to market was Vioxx. Anyway, I hope that you and share the sympathy for hapless scientists (some of whom I would venture to say have achievements comparable to yours) who are caught in the crosshairs of the Inner-Party managers.

"...yes, a high rate of success, but it didn't make me a cock..." Or did it? (pinching chin, eyebrow raised)

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69. Hey Priscilla on October 23, 2011 12:14 PM writes...

What happened to the S-P process folks at the Union site? I had interviewed there right after the Organon acquisition. Were they "fully integrated" with the Rahway crowd?

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70. Anonymous on October 24, 2011 6:57 PM writes...

@66
Just curious, what were the total chemist layoffs at Merck recently. I'm hearing some scary numbers...

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71. Anonymous on October 25, 2011 10:36 PM writes...

@70
The numbers _are_scary. 40% in KW, plus a lower percentage in RY. Plus lots of people leaving the company, some leaving science altogether. An incredible amount of hand-raisers.

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