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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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« A Big Change at Pfizer? Or Just a Rumor? | Main | Drug Discovery With the Most Common Words »

January 15, 2013

AstraZeneca Shakeup

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Posted by Derek

And while we're talking big pharma shakeups, I note that AstraZeneca's new CEO has rearranged the executive furniture pretty vigorously, ditching Martin Mackay. He was the R&D head, ex-Pfizer, and seems to have lasted about two years at AZ, whose well-known problems are going to make the higher positions pretty perilous for some time to come. And the middle positions. And all the others.

Comments (18) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business and Markets


1. Hap on January 15, 2013 9:48 AM writes...

If you're going over a cliff, why is throwing out the driver going to help?

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2. Quintus on January 15, 2013 12:13 PM writes...

@ Hap: because he can't drive.

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3. petros on January 15, 2013 12:37 PM writes...

Well it makes a change for the top guys to get fired

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4. Hap on January 15, 2013 1:13 PM writes...

Did the people who hired him know that? If they did, and hired him, firing isn't going to do any good because either the incompetence was what they wanted or they didn't know what they're doing. If they didn't know, they were incompetent (at minimum, in hiring him), and it's difficult to imagine that their skills will have improved in the interim. In either case, if the people who chose Mackay are still there, then firing him won't fix AZ's problems.

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5. Dr. Manhattan on January 15, 2013 1:50 PM writes...

Hap: Mackay was brought in from Pfizer in 2010 by former CEO Brennan. The net effect was to add another level of management at AZ. With Brennan's elimination, the support for that level is obviously also gone, as is Mackay. It's a step in the direction that Soriot wants to take the company.

I believe this is just the opening gun in several more major changes in the near future for AZ. Soriot was brought in by the BOD to make changes. Unfortunately, those probably will probably be painful for the people in the trenches as well.

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6. Hap on January 15, 2013 2:07 PM writes...

They have to fix things, then. I wasn't there (duh), but I'm not sure why they needed to add another layer of management in the first place.

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7. Dr. Manhattan on January 15, 2013 2:19 PM writes...

"but I'm not sure why they needed to add another layer of management in the first place."

Hal, I agree. With Mackay's arrival, the structure went away from a relatively flat, local VP leadership model to a Pfizer-like hierarchial structure, with multiple new managerial layers. Soriot would do well to flatten it again.

It will also be interesting to see what Mene Pangalos does with is new senior position, since he previously championed the virtual CNS model. CNS at AZ is now a very small group of senior people "monitoring" academia & biotech for opportunities.

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8. drug_hunter on January 15, 2013 2:44 PM writes...

It seems that he is a political casualty and we'll never know what he could have accomplished at AZ... I never worked for him but my impression is that Mackay is a decent scientist and a good manager. Perhaps those who know him better want to disagree?

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9. watcher on January 15, 2013 3:52 PM writes...

The expectation is that Pharma will consolidate to a few large inernational companies over the next decade or so......and so we are just seeing the continuation of this trend with the movements of AZ.

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10. Anonymous on January 15, 2013 6:46 PM writes...

Watch who so riot hires to replace this guy. My guess is one of his buddies from Roche. Let,s see but the cronyism at Roche was extreme....

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11. Mobio on January 16, 2013 9:20 AM writes...

I've met MacKay at a government/academic thing at the NIH and found him to be both insightful and delightful.

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12. Anonymous on January 16, 2013 12:38 PM writes...

AZ changed the top management completely and got rid off sizable part of their R&D etc.,After three years they are still in 'trial and error' mode just like our old traditional medchem

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13. Oldnuke on January 16, 2013 4:32 PM writes...

Well, if the past few years is going to be rinse - repeat, there won't be any R&D left in the States. I live right down the road from A-Z in Delaware -- they've shuttered several of their newer lab buildings completely, donated some of the equipment to local academia, and the number of cars entering the facility at rush hour is considerably less (not that I'm complaining about less traffic!).

It's a shame to see those buildings sit idle when there is actually a lack of usable bio-tech lab space for startups in the area.

Even DuPont was smart enough to lease a couple of modern pharmchem buildings in their Experimental Station to outsiders. (from their DuPont Pharmaceuticals debacle)


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14. Anonymous on January 16, 2013 9:27 PM writes...

And why is Merck shuttering buildings all over Rahway???

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15. Vimal on January 17, 2013 1:24 AM writes...

Do you think AZ will be able to compete with companies like Pfizer and Merck in the near future because as previously mentioned, they are still present in an unstable flux that they are trying to get out of. It might be too late by the time they streamline their structure.

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16. ROGI on January 19, 2013 2:44 PM writes...

As a former high level MRL employee of many years, I am curious about the "shuttering" of buildings. The former manufacturing facilities behinde the MRL labs have been shuttered for many years. Are they shuttering the reseach end of things (Buildings 800, the 80's (M,T,N,Y), 121,123 and Building 50? Are they shuttering the former Corporate buildings 32,33 or even Process Research (801)? Inquiring minds would like to know

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17. chemist on January 22, 2013 9:24 AM writes...

Can't really take this company too seriously, a lot of their "senior scientist" hires in Waltham were through temp agencies and from custom synthesis sweat shops.

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18. pharmamasochist on January 22, 2013 9:36 AM writes...

Damn it you scientists why can't you discover faster, I need another private jet!

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