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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 22, 2011

Merry Christmas, Fred

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Posted by Derek

I believe that this story has been mentioned in the comments here, but since I've heard from the actual person involved, I thought I'd pass on the canonical version. Someone I used to work with at Schering-Plough found himself (like many others in his position) out of a job in late October. He had a previously scheduled trip to Florida the next day, and as he boarded the plane, who should he see sitting in first class but Fred Hassan, the CEO of Schering-Plough who'd helped engineer the deal with Merck?

As the chemist involved put it, "After quickly scanning to make sure there wasn’t a body guard looking guy near him", he said "Hi, Fred!" Hassan looked up and asked "Do I know you?" "Well," said the chemist, "no, probably not, but I'm a medicinal chemist with Schering-Plough, and now Merck". Hassan smiled and said "Great, so how are you?" The response, in a loud voice, was "Well, I just got laid off!". He then walked on down to his seat in coach, and heard Hassan saying something about being sorry about that. And as he told me, he sat there in coach, smiling at the picture of Hassan thinking about this irate ex-employee on the plane with him for the next 2 and a half hours. . .

Comments (15) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business and Markets


1. anonymous on December 22, 2011 10:10 AM writes...

Hassan was probably jetting off to his weekend home in Boca....nice, but what a price tag!!!

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2. anchor on December 22, 2011 10:12 AM writes...

Derek: wish it was longer than 2.5h...more like non-stop 17h to Japan. This son of a gun, ruined many lives and may he rot in hell!

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3. Eric on December 22, 2011 10:36 AM writes...

Unfortunately, the episode probably didn't faze Hassan.

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4. exCHEM on December 22, 2011 10:57 AM writes...

Yep, I am sure he choked on his glass of bubbly.. it will end up being a joke amongst the board members. To be honest, he could really have made more use of the chance meeting..

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5. Nick K on December 22, 2011 11:01 AM writes...

Alas, apart from the momentary social embarrassment it will have been like water off a duck's back to Hassan. He's a sociopath, as is everyone at that level.

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6. milkshaken on December 22, 2011 11:14 AM writes...

He should have spilled tomato juice on his suit. Then with many apologies proceed to blot and smudge it out, to make sure Fred's shirt and Rolex gets some of it too.

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7. p on December 22, 2011 11:19 AM writes...

Should have told the attendant Fred was using his company as a front for terrorism.

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8. startup on December 22, 2011 11:21 AM writes...

"Merger, criminal scheme in which company executives and legal department fire workers to pocket and split their earnings."

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9. Chemjobber on December 22, 2011 11:40 AM writes...

EPIC. I'd like to buy that chemist a drink, maybe even two.

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10. Wile E. Coyote, Genius on December 22, 2011 1:07 PM writes...

That will teach him to not take the corporate jet and instead fly with all the rabble.

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11. RB Woodweird on December 22, 2011 2:44 PM writes...

I once spotted our CEO waiting in the terminal to get on a plane to Europe I happened to be also getting on. Luckily for him, I hadn't been laid off, otherwise a discrete phone call to airport security would have been in order.

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12. Aspirin on December 22, 2011 3:05 PM writes...

Your friend should have made a discreet phone call to the cockpit. For someone like Hassan, a slightly inconvenient session with US marshals and the FBI should only mildly dampen the pleasure of a slightly delayed trip to his Caribbean resort, yes?

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13. WB on December 22, 2011 8:28 PM writes...

"Sorry about that, but better you than me!"

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14. Anonymous on December 26, 2011 4:56 AM writes...

So, let me get this right. He sat there on the plane for two and a half hours; smiling, happy and jobless. He then childishly acted out on a plane to a man he never met that expressed sorrow for what happened.

Perhaps politely introducing oneself, acting like a mature adult and engaging in a conversation would have yielded something tangible: like a lead, job or letter. Then again, given the demeaner of the story... probably not.

AS for the rest of the comments

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15. DH on December 26, 2011 7:22 PM writes...

@Anonymous: Acting like a mature adult is *so* 20th century.

(Seriously, though, you make a good point. As the great Inigo Montoya once said, "There's not a lot of money in revenge.")

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