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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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« The Next Five Years in the Drug Industry | Main | Bungled Structure, And How »

June 26, 2012

Roche Closes Nutley, Once Its US R&D Home

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Posted by Derek

Big news, and unfortunate news for the New Jersey end of the pharma business: Roche is closing down their entire site in Nutley. That's a loss of 1000 jobs, and an end to a research site that's been going since the 1930s and which was once a huge presence in the R&D world. The research is going to be picked up by Roche sites in Germany and Switzerland. The company says that it's going to open a smaller translational research center, though:

A location is being identified on the East Coast to focus on translational clinical research to support Roche US-based clinical trials and early development programs, support and maintain Roche interactions with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and enhance Roche's collaborations with US based partners, such as academic institutions and biotech companies. This new center is expected to host around 240 employees.

That sounds like a Boston/Cambridge deal to me, but we'll see. For now, we have a very large closing indeed.

Comments (54) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business and Markets


COMMENTS

1. Malthus on June 26, 2012 12:24 PM writes...

So what are Switzerland and Germany doing right?

Possibly their politicians are not owned by foreign conglomerates? This is the death knell for chemistry in America.

The US corporate business plan seems to be to have academia do your research for you then have China do the manufacturing.

I wonder how the ACS will spin this as 'good for US chemists'?

Permalink to Comment

2. heretic on June 26, 2012 12:41 PM writes...

Germany is legacy Boeringer Mannheim, Basel is motherland, Genentech was the love child of J. Drews.
Hope everyone lands on their feet

Permalink to Comment

3. Jersey Tomato on June 26, 2012 12:42 PM writes...

For many years, New Jersey was a cost-competitive place to do business. For the last twenty years or so, taxes, regulations, etc., have been increasing at a steady, rapid pace. Now that New Jersey is at least as expensive as Cambridge and other places with more prestigious reputations, the only people who are surprised that companies build elsewhere or move out of the state entirely are New Jersey politicians and the editors at newspapers like the Star Ledger.

Permalink to Comment

4. Nick K on June 26, 2012 12:44 PM writes...

The Nutley site was tremendously creative and productive in Chemistry over the years. This is a great loss.

Permalink to Comment

5. David Formerly Known as a Chemist on June 26, 2012 12:56 PM writes...

Unfortunately these types of announcements aren't even shocking or surprising anymore. Look how far (down) the western aspect of the pharma industry has come the past 10 years. Very sad indeed.

Permalink to Comment

6. Hap on June 26, 2012 1:13 PM writes...

Prestige doesn't pay the bills though - drugs do. If all those academic interactions can help you develop more, cool, but I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for them.

If you're interested in biotech, the biotech industry is supposed to be spread down the East Coast. Since pharma has been pushing into biotech more and more, I don't know that the distance helps you make more drugs.

Finally, everyone wants cheaper places to work, but no one wants to fess up for the infrastructure to make those places useful. Supposedly we've gotten more jobs in OH by whacking taxes (sending the spending to municipalities), but if municipalities cut spending, too, then someone's going to pay for that infrastructure. Unless the economic activity rises a lot (more than 50%?), you won't get enough from lowered business taxes to sustain it. Since (in general) the pay isn't as high here, you'd have to tax individuals more in lower-cost areas to pay for their infrastructure (even with the lower project costs, I would guess). Not sure how that will work.

Permalink to Comment

7. psl on June 26, 2012 1:23 PM writes...

I asked chemjobber this, but I'll ask people here. Does anyone have a graph showing total Chemistry (ideally broken down into BS/PhD) jobs in pharma vs year? I'd like to illustrate to colleagues how grim it is in the US.

Permalink to Comment

8. schnyber on June 26, 2012 1:25 PM writes...

5 Down (SP, Wyeth, Sanofi, Novartis, Roche) 2 to go (Merck, BMS) in NJ

Permalink to Comment

9. Ted on June 26, 2012 1:27 PM writes...

Hi:

My condolences to the many folks in Nutley. I wish you all the best in finding new careers.

@1: There are German companies closing pharma operations as well.

-t

Permalink to Comment

10. Sili on June 26, 2012 1:58 PM writes...

For many years, New Jersey was a cost-competitive place to do business. For the last twenty years or so, taxes, regulations, etc., have been increasing at a steady, rapid pace.
Indeed. If only corporations could do as they please, everything would be honky-dory. Permalink to Comment

11. Jersey Tomato on June 26, 2012 2:08 PM writes...

@6 - If only the growth in local spending was due to infrastructure! It's been due to gold-plated retirement benefits for government employees and patronage-driven pet projects. My fifty year old neighbor just retired from his municipal job and is moving to Florida to go fishing. I'm the chump who is staying in town and paying for his new boat with my property taxes.

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12. Jersey Tomato on June 26, 2012 2:19 PM writes...

@10 - I must have missed the part where someone said that "If only corporations could do as they please, everything would be honky-dory." No one is saying that there should be no taxes or no regulations, so please stop building straw men. To pretend that the relative costs and benefits of doing business in one place vs another aren't major drivers of where companies choose to grow or to shrink is simply ignorant. If the cost of doing business in a place like Nutley (or Madison, or Hanover, etc.) gets within shouting distance of doing business in a place like Basel or Cambridge, the positive case for staying in Nutley gets pretty slim, pretty fast.

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13. Anonalso on June 26, 2012 2:41 PM writes...

@12 -- What I do not understand is why companies flock to the same sites. Does any one really believe that Cambridge or Basel is any cheaper to do business than New Jersey? Remember, Mass just passed a law recently restricting the transportation of hazardous material during normal working hours. Think about how that impacts cost of waste disposal that has to take place during third shift.

If I were a company, I would be moving Texas (no tax) or the Midwest (not Chicago) where I could find land on the cheap and get all kinds of tax discounts. In addition, when my employees find out they can get twice the house for half the money I think most would be ready to go.

Just my 2cents.

Permalink to Comment

14. milkshake on June 26, 2012 2:46 PM writes...

which R&D groups were located in Nutley apart from the medchem and biology, pharmacology? The Roche process development - is it done in Switzerland?

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15. Markie on June 26, 2012 2:58 PM writes...

Anonalso.

I worked in the Chicago area in biotech. It was difficult to recruit top talent to the middle of the country. If your job did not work out it was a guaranteed trip back to one of the coasts.

Personally I much prefer living in my small MA house. YMMV.

Permalink to Comment

16. Hap on June 26, 2012 2:59 PM writes...

1) Damn, I hadn't realized the bennies were so good - must be why OH has the 8th biggest local tax burden, even after trying (and failing) to hose our employees. Of course, the average person in OH makes what the average person here made thirty years ago. I'm glad someone's making out well.

The other thing about benefits is that they were generally given to replace higher pay. However, since the politicians running cities and states didn't actually want to pay for them, they lowered taxes and conveniently forgot to put away enough to deliver what they promised, because they wouldn't be around when the bill came due. Since the state has nowhere to go, and the employees can actually strike, when the bill comes due, someone's stuck with it. Blaming the unions and city and state employees for that bill isn't entirely honest.

2) They'll be happy to buy more house with less money. They'll likely be less happy, though, with the schools and roads and other things that money (doesn't) fund. States winning the race to the bottom are still at the bottom.

Permalink to Comment

17. Brian on June 26, 2012 4:53 PM writes...

@15

I think in this job market, people will go where the jobs are. Just look at the shale gas in ND of all places (although that is a different sampling of the job market). In most cases, I don't see geographic preference based on personal tastes wins out against long-term unemployment.

I do understand people may be hesistant to uproot and move to a place with more limited opportunities, especially if it is for a job with a fixed duration or in a particularly unstable field. This is a self-sustainng feature of the high local concentrations of employers on the coasts.

Permalink to Comment

18. Roger on June 26, 2012 5:44 PM writes...

So what? Unemployment for US chemists is only 3.8%!

Chemistry positions are obviously being created by the thousands to counter any losses.

It's no different than any equilibrium dynamic. Distort the equilibrium and gradually the jobs 'appear' to balance the reactants (unemployed) with the products (employed).

Permalink to Comment

19. Hap on June 26, 2012 5:56 PM writes...

17: If job security is the ability to get another job, and the main recommendations for unemployed people revolve around lots of networking, then working in a place with limited alternatives and few other people doing what you do could be a ticket for future long-term unemployment.

The nature of the coastal markets is not only driven by fear of job loss and the perceived facility of finding a new job, but also by the availability of funding (so that new businesses can start) and of copious infrastructure built by lots of (tax) money. Schools also help a lot, both for potential education, networking, and ideas. The race to the bottom assumes that these are nonfactors, but I don't think that that is correct.

The two-body problem is also likely to rear its ugly head, since if job instability is endemic, two people having jobs (where you can at least sustain yourselves on one job if necessary) is an important tactic to avoiding financial problems.

I understand that you made some of these caveats, but for a lot of people they are likely to be deal-breakers.

Pharma seems to be going all in for the "let other people find your drugs for you" model. I know if you can wager all you have on a single hand, lose, and walk away, you'll have the world and all that's in it, but I wonder what Kipling thought the benefits of betting all of someone else's things on a single hand would be.

Permalink to Comment

20. Hap on June 26, 2012 6:04 PM writes...

I grew up in NJ, and seeing the chemical plants and jobs there was part of the reason I wanted to be a chemist. Considering the BASF plant just off the NJ Turnpike just went away and most of pharma seems to have gone committed suicide, I'm wondering where more chemists are going to come from.

Maybe more "we need science and technology workers" speeches will solve the problem. Right?

Permalink to Comment

21. Roche Colleague on June 26, 2012 8:37 PM writes...

Truly saddening news. I've interacted with some very talented colleagues from Nutley, and feel for them during this time. I also feel for the Palo Alto colleagues who relocated to Nutley and are now flung into this situation.

I hope everyone gets through this tough time intact, and wish everyone at Nutley the best.

Permalink to Comment

22. Thomas McEntee on June 26, 2012 9:27 PM writes...

@20: I too grew up in NJ, in the 50s and early 60s and yes, the chemical companies in northern NJ made a boy's eyes wide with wonder. Riding in my parent's car on the NJ Turnpike just north of Newark Airport, wafting through the open garbage burning in Secaucus, you could smell the sweet odor of coal tar chemistry still being run by small companies like Trubek Chemicals, just east of the Turnpike. My first real job in the chemical industry was with the Berkeley Chemical Company (Berkeley Heights, NJ) in the early 1960s, a division of Millmaster Chemicals. We produced intermediates for the blockbuster drug, Miltown (meprobamate). But up the road, on Rt 3, a new class of psychotropics had hit the street. Our days were numbered and we knew it. Sad to see this happen.

Permalink to Comment

23. mad on June 26, 2012 10:13 PM writes...

And they just overhauled a bunch of labs and built a fancy bridge there...internal politics?

Permalink to Comment

24. Hap on June 26, 2012 10:23 PM writes...

I liked all the roads and industry north of Exit 9, and particularly north of 11. (My grandma's house was off of the Parkway, so we didn't go further north than 11 on the Turnpike all that often until I went to college and had to go to Newark Airport). The smells didn't bother me, and I like(d) the oil refineries. I think we might have gone by Roche, even (when we were with my grandparents from Orange).

Somehow driving by 12 Oxford Street or the BC chemistry building doesn't have the same attraction to me. I know the chemical industry did a lot to make its bed, and that neat chemistry goes on in schools, but seeing actual big chemical plants and useful things coming from them tells people what all that chemistry is good for, and that there is something to that stuff they saw in high school, and maybe in college.

Permalink to Comment

25. experienced chemist on June 27, 2012 12:30 AM writes...

This is just a wake up call for all the researches in pharmaceutical industry, especially for the medicinal chemist. There is no mercy when the investors are chasing for return. When people put money on you, you shold fully understand what they expect from you: return. Nobody on earth want to give you free money for a long period of time without the assurance of big return. How much money will be saved? The annual cost for 1000 people is not small. At least 300 millions could be saved. Using this amount of money, how many phase I compds could be in licensed? As far as I konw, this site hasn't been produced anything lately. All the top managers are playing politics. Now the end is coming. They all realized that politics is important, but not all. You have to deliver good results. I am sure there are lots of early stage compds from this site. probably all of them will be trashes because there is no real value from the long term. My heart goes with the people affected. What I am trying to say is not to play a blame game. As an experienced chemist, I have seen enough. In big pharms, there is really no productivity. Most of the chemists don't understand what they are making. If there is a breakthrough coming out, then at least four or five other companies will jump on the same scaffold. Then many many chemists will duplicat their efforts to make the same compds but from different competitors. Sometimes they coudl spend months just figuring out what is the competitor's lead compd. Then they will resynthesize it and do lots of test. Who doesn't think this is a big waste for our society. Why waste money to duplicate the same thing. This is a big problem. Many big pharms are running out of novel targets. The majority is following literature with the hope to hit the jackpot. The chance to find something new is slim.
All the investors have realized this before we know it. The investors' eyes are not blinded. They know what is going on in the big pharms. I have no answers on how to increase the productivity. I feel there will be bad news.

Permalink to Comment

26. Nadine on June 27, 2012 4:35 AM writes...

Swiss newspapers say (http://www.tagesanzeiger.ch/wirtschaft/unternehmen-und-konjunktur/Roche-verlagert-Stellen-in-die-Schweiz/story/22712713) they gonna open up 35 new jobs in Switzerland and 15 in Germany. Don't know how that can cover up for the 1000 jobs in the US. I think they just wanted to have the press release sound less bad.

Permalink to Comment

27. okemist on June 27, 2012 8:20 AM writes...

A labmate of mine worked at Nutley in the early 80s and said he left because the new CEO had been there 5 yrs and no NCE's were produced, he feared they would have large layoffs soon. It turned out after he left, they just got a new CEO. What a different time it was then!

Permalink to Comment

28. Hap on June 27, 2012 9:36 AM writes...

If you expect a short-term return in a long-term business with large expenses and significant uncertainty, then you are going to be either disappointed or destructive (or, as is currently the case, both).

Before investors decided that the return that pharma was returning weren't enough, it was both producing drugs and profit. Now, it produces profit, though still not enough, and not for long. I guess eating the seed corn was a profitable strategy, right?

Permalink to Comment

29. Rick Wobbe on June 27, 2012 10:15 AM writes...

A statement published in today's NY Times from Roche's CEO offered a glimpse into the unselfconsciously "Through the Looking Glass" reasoning of pharma management: "'Our R&D programs were exceptionally successful over the last 18 months, with 24 out of 28 late-stage clinical trials delivering positive results,' Severin Schwan, Roche’s chief executive, said in a statement. He said the closing in Nutley would 'free up resources that we can invest in these promising clinical programs while also increasing our overall efficiency.'” I realize that long-term thinking is unusual these days, so that part of the logic is not surprising. What's striking is the unusually candid admission that if research works really hard and discovers candidates that beat the dismal clinical trial success odds, they can expect to lose their jobs. While it may be music to shareholders, it is bound to be pretty demotivating to employees. Naive question: Why is it impossible to run a successful R&D program and keep it too?

Permalink to Comment

30. Andrew Ryan on June 27, 2012 11:22 AM writes...

I also grew up in NJ, and got my first experience doing summer internships at American Cyanamid in Lawrenceville, NJ. Needless to say, that site closed 12 or so years ago, after they were bought by Wyeth.

I probably would have pursued a very different career path without my experience there. Very sad to see these places closing and preventing would-be scientists from getting exposure to industrial research.

Then again, maybe it's better that these students not get interested in the first place, for their own sake.

Permalink to Comment

31. Doug Steinman on June 27, 2012 1:08 PM writes...

While I feel sad for the employees at Nutley, this is merely the continuation of a trend in pharma and is certainly not the end of job losses in the industry. The management of the pharma companies does not care about providing advances in disease treatment and they certainly don't care about their employees who are scientists. The only thing they care about is making enough money so they can retire early and if that means throwing a few thousand more people in the unemployment line, so be it. The future of drug research at the big pharma companies is that there is no future. The drugs of the future will be discovered and early development done in small start-up companies focusing on only one disease state working on only novel compounds without doing me-too research or patent busting. These jobs will not come with benefits and will pay post-doc salaries but, possibly, be set up so that the employees own a stake in the company. The pharma industry in which I worked for 40 years and allowed me to live a middle class life style is rapidly disappearing and will not be coming back.

Permalink to Comment

32. newnickname on June 27, 2012 1:46 PM writes...

Most of the comments are serious laments, and I'm there, too. A lot of good chemistry came out of Nutley. And I think Kaback "invented" the kabackosome while at Roche Inst; he's now at UCLA.

But I did have another semi-serious comment. Vertex has already broken ground on their new digs, but "Vertex" or a company like Vertex could probably buy the old Roche campus (or just part of it) for a song and save a lot of time and money. Use what you need and lease the rest to fledgling biotechs. If I had a few hundred bucks to spare, I'd put in a bid myself.

(Anyone here want to join a "Pipeline Real Estate and Drug Discovery Consortium"?)

Permalink to Comment

33. anchor on June 27, 2012 1:51 PM writes...

@32-..Vertex could probably buy the old Roche campus..to which I say dream on! In a World of supply and demand that is not going to happen. Anyway, thanks for your thoughts.

Permalink to Comment

34. Anonymous on June 27, 2012 2:26 PM writes...

I watched Roche dismantle the Nutley site over the past 25 years and I do not remember anyone in upper management ever even mentioning taxes and regulations as a reason. Strangely the very first comments on many websites that I have seen state that taxes and regulations are the reasons for the final closing of the Nutley site. Maybe I am just ignorant or stupid, but it seems that people with a certain political agenda are very good at getting their message out, no matter what the actual facts are.
The thing I was hoping to see was at least some mention of Leo Sternbach and Earl Reeder, so I just put their names in here. Thanks guys.

Permalink to Comment

35. drug_hunter on June 27, 2012 3:28 PM writes...

Rather than have a biotech or pharma buy the site, I'm thinking of how Yale bought the West Haven Bayer site for 20 cents on the dollar. Rutgers is 7 miles away from Nutley, and Columbia is ~15 miles away....

Permalink to Comment

36. Dr. Manhattan on June 27, 2012 4:10 PM writes...

"And I think Kaback "invented" the kabackosome while at Roche Inst; he's now at UCLA".

Ron Kaback was at the Roche Institute for Molecular Biology, which was on the campus, but separate from the Roche Pharma operations. It was an early model for having basic scientific research near at hand to benefit the pharmaceutical R&D.

Permalink to Comment

37. Rick Wobbe on June 27, 2012 4:49 PM writes...

36, It wasn't just an early model of having basic scientific research at near at hand, it was also an early model of pharma cluelessly wasting that basic scientific research.

Permalink to Comment

38. Tom Ames on June 27, 2012 7:21 PM writes...

Nutley was closed because Roche bought Genentech and relocated most of its US operations to South San Francisco.

I feel bad for the Roche employees at Nutley, but this has almost certainly been in the works since the merger. (How much sense does it make to maintain two largely overlapping research organizations, especially as the expensive end of the development pipeline is filling up?)

The only wild-card was whether the dalcetrapib trial was going to be successful.

Permalink to Comment

39. Paul on June 27, 2012 8:16 PM writes...

Headline:"Biosciences Defy US Jobs Slump as Research Labs Hire"

http://www.biospace.com/news_story.aspx?StoryID=264942&full=1

Sampling rates defeat reality again!

Permalink to Comment

40. heretic on June 28, 2012 6:36 AM writes...

both institute for mol bio in Nutley and immunology in Basel were closed after Prof Dr J Drews declared we have enough sci from these institutes. If there were going to reassign research based on performance then no small molecule in USA and only biologics in USA.

Permalink to Comment

41. NJ on June 28, 2012 6:43 AM writes...

Roche Nutley became another victim of the CETP inhibitors saga. the failure of Dalcetrapib most likely played a big role in the decision of the site closure. You can always think that this disease area could bring very big rewards for any company that could succeed in this field and become the next" lipitor" of this decade. However, I feel the risks are so high and all the scientists from Pfizer ( Michigan) and Roche (Nutley) are now paying the price. It was probably not worth to pump millions and millions of dollars to arrive to that point.
What will happen to Lilly and Merck inhibitors ? I hope that they would not put at risk again all those scientists...

Permalink to Comment

42. NJ-2 on June 29, 2012 6:44 PM writes...

Sad news but not unexpected. Even worse news for new talent looking to apply for jobs with all these colleagues from Nutley now flowing the market place.

There are more propound lessons to be learnt. We keep making me too drugs. Small increments. Lack of innovation and lack of people willing to make the difficult compounds that need to be made. A failure of the discovery metrics driven approach to Medicinal Chemistry. How many compounds you made seems more important than the insight and the questions you want to answer.

A network of small companies with very focused research topics will have to appear to fight the rigidity of big pharma. Big companies will just focus in licensing programs, and getting through the clinical and regulatory process.

By the way, PTC in NJ has also laid off a large number of medicinal chemists.

Permalink to Comment

43. dvizard on June 29, 2012 7:56 PM writes...

@Malthus
> So what are Switzerland and Germany doing right?

Basically Roche and Novartis have been blackmailing the Swiss government for decades - whenever some politicians pick up the discussion of allowing parallel imports of pharmaceuticals to lower the prices, they are quick to threaten us that they will close Swiss research.

Permalink to Comment

44. Anonymous on June 30, 2012 8:46 PM writes...

10 reasons that this is not the end of it

1. Competitions in Biologics and Oncology, two areas historically neglected by other companies, is going to intensify
2. Roche Virology is left behind
3. Exited inflammation foolishly, believing the work is done while 50% of patients with autoimmune diseases do not respond to current therapies
4. Forced exit in CV and metabolic diseases by the failure of its CETP inhibitor
5. Clinging to CNS and investing too much in Alzheimer's without knowing what they are doing
6. GRED's effort in small molecule discovery is not succeeding
7. Thinks that they are the only ones that can do personal health care
8. Clueless strategy of having to firewalled competing research and development organizations
9. Roche family's no longer has majority stake in the company, making Roche a target for merger with Novartis
10. The guy at the top has not clue about what he is doing with the Pharma division

Permalink to Comment

45. GM on June 30, 2012 9:11 PM writes...

Did the demise come due to us losing our innovativeness and creativity? Did we loose our focus?

We did and the end result is in front of America. Is this the future? We need to re-group and think hard. We have what it takes. Let us not loose heart and blame someone else.

I agree with NJ-2 and have been saying so for a while. Wake up America. Let's keep our independence.

Permalink to Comment

46. Nutley Scientist on July 7, 2012 12:14 PM writes...

First- Thanks for the condolences and well wishes, we appreciate it

Second- The reason, a perfect storm of a) The mergee dictating very favorable terms for themselves, including moving corporate HQ to SF and preservation of their "culture" at all costs b) The failure of Dalcetrapib (despite the fact that the decisions took place in Basel not Nutley) c) Terrible management including an academic "genius" who was much like Jerry Lewis' nutty professor and d) A Swiss company that was always going to put homeland jobs first.

Was it a surpise? No not really, we all knew it was going to happen eventually, just not this soon.

Finally, Anon 44 makes very valid points and obviously knows what they are talking about. Prehaps with a bit of sour grapes we will now watch from the outside and see how this all turns out, probably not well.

Permalink to Comment

47. Anonymous on July 12, 2012 6:29 AM writes...

Not too sure whether the reminder of pRED will survive in 2-3 years. Big gamble on Alzheimer's is probably not getting them anywhere. The head of Neuro is full of BS, and a good salesman catering to his boss and his boss' boss.

Permalink to Comment

48. Grampa Spey on July 15, 2012 12:01 PM writes...

I was a pharma sales rep in the E Coast with a J&J division, and the division turned very vicious in the late 1960's

So I started looking for another pharma company, and a doctor/friend/client warned me about the coming acquistion flood by richer companies across America. He said the pharma companies were starting to eat each other up. He advised going with a company that would do the eating. He recommended Merck, Lilly, Upjohn and Roche. He doubted anyone would buy out Roche.

I did my research which was hard to come by in 1967, aRoche was a mystery company not on the stock market. After about a month I knew probably more about Roche than most of its employees did. The company was basically family owned and not really impacted by the American stock market.

So I contacted my local Roche rep to find out about the possibility of getting a job. He was getting promoted and recommended me to the local sales manager. I had an inteview with him.

His first question was what did I know about Roche.

I had prepared a sales folder with the data on Roche, its current products including Valium/Librium and the other good products. He offered me job on the spot if my resume checked out.

So I went to work as a Roche sales rep and loved it. About 4 years later I was promoted into the Nutley home office. Dr Mattia, the guiding light for Roche had passed away, and the company went from a people company to a different beast.

My wife hated the NJ area, and I got a promotion to the west coast. After a week in California, she informed me that if I went back to the home office, she was staying in California with our kids.

At that time Valium became the number one Rx product and the target of everyone in DC and the various states. The company basically refused to listen to the reps, sales managers, doctors and Pharmacists warning about this tidal wave of bad publicity.

During this time the American CEO was a custodian CEO and refused to invest in anything new.

Fortunately Irv Lerner took over and changed the companies course re dealing with Valium, politicians and the haters of Roche while pumping investment into research and doing co ventures.

His first coventure was with BW with the Bactrim/Septra drug, which is still a great product. The really big co marketing venture was with Glaxo and their block buster Zantac.

Zantac enabled funding of more research and was a moral booster of the sales force and many in the home office.

Then Roche launched Rocephin and it was a truly wonder drug. It was an injectable antibiotic that could be used in the hospital, ers, clinics and doctors's offices.

Versed and Romazicon came on the scene. After we found out how to use Versed based on patients not a marketing replacement goal/scheme of Valium injectable, Versed became an incredible product.

Then, what I saw as the beginning of the end of Roche Pharma was the co marketing of Toradol with Syntex. Toradol was an incredible product, it was highly promoted with minimal warnings about the GI potential problems.

At this time, Roche had begun what was seen by many as a hostile take over of Syntex to get Torodol as its own, and a bunch of mythical products in Syntex's pipeline.

Then news of deaths and serious GI bleeds and other problems with Toradol overdosing by mds across America basically killed that wonderful product.

We then owned Syntex and their employees with the Toradol problem across the nation.

Added to the Toradol problem was Roche's refusal to acknowledge the growth of government selection of drugs and the emerging new HMO's selection of drugs.

Roche management blamed the sales force if we couldn't sell a product without the product being on a government or HMO formulary.

During this harsh dose of reality, most of the newly acquired Syntex people were laid off or got an early retirement package.

A fairly new entire sales division for Roche was laid off. They promoted the old and most vulnerable products. Those of us with the power products predicted that would happen.

During this time there was an early retirement package offered to those of us with a certain age and time in service.

I had dropped out of Roche management well over a decade before, after growing tired of Nutley ignoring the realities of the marketing place. I had a sales territory that I turned from a loser to a top producing area. That success without price help would lead to the demise of the territory in a few years after I "retired".

So I took te early retirement offer and never looked back.

The advice from that MD friend, decades ago to go with Roche was a good ride. It enabled me to have a great home in a great area. Our family had a good life thanks to Roche, and our children were able to get the eductationsw that has enabled them to have a good life inspite of the current and ongoing recession.

It is sad to see Roche fade away.

However, it was predictable and was by many of us from Nutley to the West Coast.

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49. Anonymous on July 19, 2012 5:51 AM writes...

Predictions

Roche's current CEO is dictating the two research and development organization model that will never work. He and his cronies will be replaced when the Alzheimer's trial fails. The company will change its name to Genentech.

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50. Chemmy on July 20, 2012 2:13 PM writes...

Another Example of Corporations poluting, contaminating and destroying towns.

How many cases of cancer did Roche cause in Nutley and Clifton?

Roche is already neglecting the Nutley site (July 19) , the parking lots are an eyesore of pavement and 4 foot weeds. Nutley is paying the piper. We soon will have a superfund site, once the EPA starts finding the skeletons in Mater Roche's closet. Nutley politicians cannot raise taxes and must now get rid of the town fat. The mall, the condos and Roche have turned a wonderful suburb into a below average town with high taxes and lousy services. Roche, maker of the 30,000k AIDS drug.

Go back to Switzerland and stay there.

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51. Chemmy on July 20, 2012 2:15 PM writes...

Another Example of Corporations poluting, contaminating and destroying towns.

How many cases of cancer did Roche cause in Nutley and Clifton?

Roche is already neglecting the Nutley site (July 19) , the parking lots are an eyesore of pavement and 4 foot weeds. Nutley is paying the piper. We soon will have a superfund site, once the EPA starts finding the skeletons in Mater Roche's closet. Nutley politicians cannot raise taxes and must now get rid of the town fat. The mall, the condos and Roche have turned a wonderful suburb into a below average town with high taxes and lousy services. Roche, maker of the 30,000k AIDS drug.

Go back to Switzerland and stay there.

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52. Anonymous on August 2, 2012 9:49 PM writes...

Death from 1000 cuts LOL!!! I read somewhere that the management in Switzerland said something to the effect (don't quote me but..) "Well, we just don't have the critical mass in research in order to support the site moving forward" Hey wait a minute you butt boys....didn't you cut 38% of the headcount on the nutley site in Dec. 2010???? Doh!! Unfortunately, that place has experienced sooo much strife over the years due to highly ineffective and narcissistic management, particularly in med chem. The only ones to blame for this tragedy are the ones that were there for a long time and caused so much damage and were allowed to do so. Remember...In the end, justice prevails. The strong, smart and honest will survive... the BS will sink.

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53. angryman on September 2, 2012 8:29 AM writes...

Well, it is desperately sad but I can't say I am surprised. Welwyn research went the same way in 2001 but it was very apparent to most of the staff things could not go on as they were. largely due to poor management but there you go.

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54. BlueWaves on September 4, 2012 4:00 AM writes...

Useful ideas,hard work, efficiency and effectiveness was not always encouraged but the butterflies of the world, gift of the gab and extra-mural activities were held in high esteem. Shame that the management could not or wouldn't see it coming. The paradigm shift and walking the walk and talking the talk came in existance!!I wish they had talked & walked less but actually spent time in contributing.Very sad and angry Welwyn R&D 2001 & manufacturing closure 2003, after being asked to cut back by 40%!! Good luck to Palo Alto & Nutley staff.

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