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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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« The Research World Staggers Back to Work | Main | 2012 In Startups »

January 3, 2012

That's Sir Andrew to You

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Posted by Derek

A reader in the UK sends along the news that GlaxoSmithKline's CEO, Andrew Witty, made the New Year's Honours list. His knighthood really put the "Sir" in "Sirtris acquisition", doesn't it?

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


1. Jonny on January 3, 2012 10:43 AM writes...

Come on, Derek. A little cheap for a New Year, don't you think? I'm sure you can appreciate the risk inherent in science-based acquisitions.

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2. RC Mishra on January 3, 2012 10:58 AM writes...


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3. Chemjobber on January 3, 2012 11:06 AM writes...

The GSK plumper is back! We gotta give this guy a nickname.

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4. Hap on January 3, 2012 11:11 AM writes...

Then that would be the only thing cheap about the Sirtris acquisition.

Apparently a significant number of internal people at GSK said that the Sirtris purchase was a bad idea (at least at that price - see previous Sirtris strings here) and were not well-received. While it was unknown territory, and people have given bad advice before, that would not make the investment inputs entirely unknown - management just ignored what little they did know. That doesn't increase one's confidence in the likely outcome of their decision-making.

In addition, even if the inputs to Sirtris had been completely unknown, $720 M is a lot to spend on a flyer or a lottery ticket.

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5. ToryBoy on January 3, 2012 11:13 AM writes...

Cynicism aside, I'm sure these glad tidings will bring great New Year's cheer to all in the employ of GSK both in the UK and around the world. Sir Andrew's evident association with the dominant party in the UK coalition government has had the desired effect and secured "the gong". We all knew it was only a matter of time before he got his appointment with Her Majesty and it would be churlish of us, regardless of political persuasion, not to join in heart-felt congratulations to Sir Andrew and the conservative party. My only reservation about this meritorious award was that Sir Andrew was not granted a lordship, sure a "Lord Witty of Brentford" was not too much to ask for such devoted service to the UK and the conservative party. Perhaps he will also be awarded a congressional medal of honor or some such award to recognise his great contribution to the US as well, we can only wait and hope! Anyway, "arise Sir Andrew!".

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6. To Sir(tis) with Love on January 3, 2012 11:55 AM writes...

"They call me SIR Witty!"

Does the sun ever set on British Pharma?

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7. anon2 on January 3, 2012 1:17 PM writes...

Just another bit of data reinforcing sentiment that (t)Witty is a would-be Brit politician, through and through, ultimately with eyes on a seat in Parliament once he's sucked enough compensation and built sufficient personal wealth from GSK.

At least the guy is transparent and consistent as an ultimate conservative who puts friends above company, as shown in his continued support of James Murdoch on the GSK Board. Lots of political back-scratching, ehhh?

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8. Anonymous on January 3, 2012 5:25 PM writes...

My understanding was that one of the reasons cited for the knighthood was for 'the creation of UK jobs'

Seems to me there are less UK jobs at GSK since his tenure, including mine...

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9. Kumar on January 3, 2012 5:41 PM writes...

What is it with you and Sirtris? The CEO of GSK get knighted and bring up Sirtris? Man you really have it in for those guys.

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10. anonymous on January 3, 2012 7:16 PM writes...

Derek - Kudos on the very WITTY comment.

@4 Hap - As I've mentioned in the past, many a large Pharma employee (in addition to those at GSK) warned their Management of the "questionable" value of partnering with Sirtris but alas, to no avail. The only reason GSK landed in this position is that they were the greater fools (in offering even more $$$ than their competitors)...

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11. processchemist on January 4, 2012 7:00 AM writes...

From Sir James Black to Sir Andrew Witty: a perfect image of the decline of the pharma world....

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12. ToryBoy on January 4, 2012 10:10 AM writes...

How many of these apply to Sir Andrew et al?

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13. BK on January 4, 2012 2:47 PM writes...

Don't GSK have an ethics policy that prevents employees accepting personal gifts in relation to their work? Or are gifts of titles for oneself and ones wife exempt? Anyone know?

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14. Anonymous on January 4, 2012 4:11 PM writes...

Yep, now he's a member of the Knights of Can-the-lot.

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15. Anonymous on January 4, 2012 8:50 PM writes...

sir andrew wanker??

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