About this Author
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

Chemistry and Drug Data: Drugbank
Chempedia Lab
Synthetic Pages
Organic Chemistry Portal
Not Voodoo

Chemistry and Pharma Blogs:
Org Prep Daily
The Haystack
A New Merck, Reviewed
Liberal Arts Chemistry
Electron Pusher
All Things Metathesis
C&E News Blogs
Chemiotics II
Chemical Space
Noel O'Blog
In Vivo Blog
Terra Sigilatta
BBSRC/Douglas Kell
Realizations in Biostatistics
ChemSpider Blog
Organic Chem - Education & Industry
Pharma Strategy Blog
No Name No Slogan
Practical Fragments
The Curious Wavefunction
Natural Product Man
Fragment Literature
Chemistry World Blog
Synthetic Nature
Chemistry Blog
Synthesizing Ideas
Eye on FDA
Chemical Forums
Symyx Blog
Sceptical Chymist
Lamentations on Chemistry
Computational Organic Chemistry
Mining Drugs
Henry Rzepa

Science Blogs and News:
Bad Science
The Loom
Uncertain Principles
Fierce Biotech
Blogs for Industry
Omics! Omics!
Young Female Scientist
Notional Slurry
Nobel Intent
SciTech Daily
Science Blog
Gene Expression (I)
Gene Expression (II)
Adventures in Ethics and Science
Transterrestrial Musings
Slashdot Science
Cosmic Variance
Biology News Net

Medical Blogs
DB's Medical Rants
Science-Based Medicine
Respectful Insolence
Diabetes Mine

Economics and Business
Marginal Revolution
The Volokh Conspiracy
Knowledge Problem

Politics / Current Events
Virginia Postrel
Belmont Club
Mickey Kaus

Belles Lettres
Uncouth Reflections
Arts and Letters Daily
In the Pipeline: Don't miss Derek Lowe's excellent commentary on drug discovery and the pharma industry in general at In the Pipeline

In the Pipeline

« Probing A Binding Tunnel With AFM | Main | I'll Just Take a Tour of Your Lab Drawers Here »

March 7, 2013

Peter Kim Retires From Merck

Email This Entry

Posted by Derek

The question now is, should the verb "retires" have quotation marks around it or not? Roger Perlmutter (ex-Amgen) will take over from him. Here's the Reuters story - more details when and if any emerge.

Comments (33) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business and Markets


1. anon on March 7, 2013 9:08 AM writes...

You mean Roger Perlmutter, ex-Merck? Yes he was at Amgen too, but accomplished nothing but contributing to destruction of culture and a huge reduction in market cap. Smart man, nice man, but totally ineffective at running R&D. I wonder if he will bring along the friends he brought into Amgen at high positions .

Permalink to Comment

2. anchor on March 7, 2013 9:51 AM writes...

@1...Roger Pearlmutter accomplished nothing when he bolted out (or peeved) of Merck about 15 years back and then re-surfaced at Amgen. Well he is back to Merck to finish what he started, which is nothing! We can predict that this headed nowhere, unless he is instrumental in bringing Merck and Amgen in an alliance! Merck as well as others, anyway was salivating at the opportunity to enter biologics.

Permalink to Comment

3. watcher on March 7, 2013 10:21 AM writes...

Well, that was quick for Kim.

Permalink to Comment

4. Teddy Z on March 7, 2013 10:35 AM writes...

@#3 Seriously? PK has been destroying Merck for a decade and he should have been "retired" after the SP merger. I still would like to have somebody name 1 (one!) deal that PK did that ended up positively for the company. When I was in grad school, everyone wanted to work for Merck. Can't say that now.

Permalink to Comment

5. anon on March 7, 2013 12:09 PM writes...

Yeah anchor, I heard he was a disaster at Merck and left when his ego was bruised with Kim's hire.

The question I have, is why do guys that show strings of failure keep getting chances?

Permalink to Comment

6. About Time on March 7, 2013 12:19 PM writes...

Running a large research organization well is an impossible task because no one has the breadth or depth of knowledge to do it all. That said, one can reflect on PSK’s time and give him some credit for not screwing up the Januvia, Gardasil, and Isentress programs already started before he arrived. The list of failures is much longer, and he got paid a handsome salary to at least get a few of these decisions right. Given the impossibility of the task for one person, his most important job was to select senior leaders to lead the various therapeutic and functional areas. He failed on a number of fronts; most notably Steven Friend who produced nothing as head of Oncology and Dennis Choi who set neuroscience back a decade with poor strategic focus. Kathleen Metters destroyed basic research with micromanagement and the misguided notion that research is a “process” amenable to analysis and optimization by MBAs. From all accounts all the best and most insightful leaders of the organization have been forced out, leaving a bunch of “yes men” scared of risk-taking. This is particularly ironic given that speaking up was a key theme of his early days. Multiple reorganizations on PSK’s watch, with projects being moved from one site to another, not only hindered the progression of a number of fronts but also killed morale. The complete lack of productivity (as measured by compounds in the pipeline) of the Boston site, especially in the face of closing the most productive research site (Montreal) is evidence of a lack of true understanding that the people and culture of an organization are more important in finding drugs than proximity to academics. What is the return on investment from the $1 billion Sirna purchase, especially including the significant Merck resources expended on trying to realize the vision? The most damaging indictment of PSK’s tenure would be that Merck had to merge with another company because his research organization could not fill the pipeline, and it is remarkable that he lasted this long post-merger. Good riddance, and it will be interesting to see if Dr. Perlmutter can restore any of the past glory.

Permalink to Comment

7. Ex Mrk on March 7, 2013 12:20 PM writes...


Roger Perlmutter was Ed Scolnick's heir apparent until some riff happened around 2000-2001, and he left.

Perhaps there's hope for MRL after all, with the appointment of someone who both knows the science and knows the business, like Roy Vagelos did...

Now if Perlmutter can stop the hemorrhage or real talent and get rid of some deadwood...

Permalink to Comment

8. Anonymous on March 7, 2013 12:21 PM writes...

Yeah anon, you see the same thing in small companies. Once someone gets a CEO title it is a lifetime pass. They can jump from one sinking ship to another to another. No one ever does the due diligence to ask, "why did the last two ships sink captain"?

Permalink to Comment

9. ExMrk on March 7, 2013 12:25 PM writes...

@About Time

Don't forget about Peter Kim's pissing off of Emilio Emini, who then bolted.

Permalink to Comment

10. anon on March 7, 2013 12:38 PM writes...

Wow, and the really scary thing is the account by About Time, that with different specifics, could describe Roger's reign at Amgen. Forcing out great leaders who managed with a quiet voice and let the scientists stand in the spot light and drive science with their own passion in favor of tight control and process driven leaders who always had to be the smartest guys in the room. They also managed to their bonuses, not to patient benefit. Read the news on trial data and how key information was handled and you can make your own conclusion about how the senior team valued others, be they patients, investors or people whose productivity and careers they managed.

Did this same team play a role in Vioxx decision making? Funny thing is many of the ex-Merck that came to Amgen claimed to be central to Vioxx until problems became clear, then they seemed to have had a less important role. Not sure where the truth lies.

Permalink to Comment

11. anchor on March 7, 2013 1:24 PM writes...

@5...In one of those flight magazine, I read that you get what you want not because "you deserve it, but by negotiating." May be all those guys who show strings of failure(s) and still going up the ladder is because they are good at negotiation. Translation-be good at BSing and tell that the other guy failed more than you!

Permalink to Comment

12. In Vivo Veritas on March 7, 2013 1:57 PM writes...

Anyone know where this leave Luciano Rosetti at Merck? When he joined in 2006, there was lots of talk about him being the "next Peter Kim".

Permalink to Comment

13. Anonymous on March 7, 2013 3:00 PM writes...

Once Roger starts, here's 3 signs to indicate how he will lead and how much leeway he has:

1. What will he do with the complex structure of Merck research?

Good: Change it significantly so that strategy and accountability for a disease area reside with the same person.

Bad: Keep, or only marginally modify.

Rationale: It's not so much about the structure for structure's sake, as it is about ensuring a person owns a decision.

2. What will be the disease areas of focus?

Good: Focus on an smaller no. of disease areas. Current strategy is unmanageable.

Bad: "After a thorough and careful analysis, we have decided to continue a current focus on CV, metabolic, inflammation, CNS, oncology, opthalmology ...

Rationale: 9 'therapeutic areas'. Really? 9? - when you can't even get ANYTHING approved?

3. What will personnel decisions be?

Good: Clean house, especially people who were friends of Peter. There's a long list, without naming particular names. But - how's the antiviral franchise doing? how's the Boston site doing? how is cardiovascular decision making going? what has Licensing done that's added value to the company?

Bad: Bring in people who followed him to Merck, then to Amgen...personal loyalty is wonderful. this is business, and he has a mess to fix.

Rationale: Roger needs to demonstrate he can build an organization. He has never done that.

Permalink to Comment

14. anon on March 7, 2013 6:07 PM writes...

FWIW, Roger re-orged Amgen, brought in Therapeutic area focus, but failed for point #3. Maybe he has learned, but to the prior comments, if he is 0 for 2 in building productive organizations or recognizing value producers, hasn't he demonstrated already, with 100's of millions of budget, more than a decade in total, that he does not build good organizations?

Permalink to Comment

15. EXITIMRKENTERAMGN on March 7, 2013 7:01 PM writes...

You're all being too hard on Dr. Kim. He was a vital asset to the Merck organization bringing 20 new medicines to market during his tenure and doing so with a six sigma leaner and meaner staff of technicians. Just look where Merck was when he took over and look where it is now. As for Dr. Perlmutter, he will complement Dr. Kim's work by focusing on Biologics...perhaps a merger will be in the works...Mamgen or if there is another "reverse merger" maybe Amgerck?

Permalink to Comment

16. Junda on March 7, 2013 11:11 PM writes...

Merck needs people with triple digit iq's at all levels of the organization not the yes people that are currently running the show

Permalink to Comment

17. Anonymous on March 8, 2013 6:23 AM writes...

In just a matter of a few years it's been fascinating to watch the long line of characters who systematically and gleefully destroyed so many careers, all in the name of advancing their own personal agendas and building an organization in their own image and likeness surrounded by their adoring posterior-kissing sycophants, one by one get shown the door i.e. "retired" with blood still dripping from their callous hands. They no doubt assumed they would have been in total control by now. But, alas, Karma kicked in. Don't shed a tear for any of these tyrants. Peter, Kathleen, Ken, Stefanie, Rainer, Joe and their ilk laughed all the way to the bank and continue laughing.

Permalink to Comment

18. Anonymous on March 8, 2013 10:23 AM writes...

Interesting development. Younger guy "retires", older guy takes the job! Hope that he can clean the house and replace the current people with self-claimed "leadership" at MRL Boston. Failure to do so will be another disaster in a few years!
And of course, the guy who falsified data to publish in Nature and PNAS, and is leading the Inflammation Research.

Permalink to Comment

19. John Swan on March 8, 2013 11:00 AM writes...

@17; What Karma. These buffoons made millions of $ demonstrating leadership and creating the pipeline while you and I made powerpoints on how our compound was the best....

Permalink to Comment

20. anonymous on March 8, 2013 11:01 AM writes...

Don't forget y'all....Senior most management at Merck must retire at 65. RP is taking an interim role until the "real talent" is identified.

Permalink to Comment

21. anon on March 8, 2013 1:05 PM writes...

# 18-as XMerck, I feel your pain. But, as the saying goes nothing changes much, when people talk of much changes. The "older worthless guy" who replaces the younger worthless fella is here to cash in on his "take" that was due to him when the younger worthless fellow replaced the older one about 12+ years back!

Permalink to Comment

22. Schniber on March 8, 2013 1:30 PM writes...

Is it possible Merck & Amgen working on a merger?

Management overlap between these two companies are very similar to those Merck had with Schering-plough.

Just a thought.

Permalink to Comment

23. Anonymous on March 8, 2013 6:59 PM writes...

@19. Karma in the sense that they finally get to taste the indignity of being shown the door, an indignity that they so gleefully meted out to so many purely as a way of settling scores and protecting their sycophants. The public pronouncements may say they "retired" but they know as well as we do that they were "retired". For them it was never about the money because they made millions regardless of their performance and left with more money than they can possibly ever spend in their lifetime. It was all about the power, the type of power that they will never ever command again which is a good thing.

Permalink to Comment

24. Anon on March 9, 2013 7:17 PM writes...

Time for him to move to Peter Schultz's Merck retirement home Calibr. Lord knows he paid the price of admission.

Permalink to Comment

25. anon on March 9, 2013 8:11 PM writes...

@23-the first part makes sense, but also for Roger's time at Amgen (and prior Merck time too?), and he does indeed command the power again to hire sycophants and wield his control and bask in his own glory. This is the maddening part.

Permalink to Comment

26. experienced chemist on March 10, 2013 10:46 AM writes...

This is a really shockking news. When Peter Kim started his career at Merk, he was cheered as a new leader. New means: energetic, passinoate, innovative etc. But guess what? Under his leadership, the only way to grow Merck is through M&A. A few years ago, Schering was absorded by Merck. Once again it is facing the same dilemma: patent expiration, dried pipeline. It has been rumoring for a while: Merck has been actively shopping to fill its pipeline. You may wonder what happened to its own R&D. Peter's resignation is absolutely no accident. When he is out and the new guy come in, the merger between Merck and Amgen will begin. Let's watch.....

Permalink to Comment

27. Anon on March 10, 2013 6:25 PM writes...

Kim funded Schultz's Ambryx just before the company went under. And then Calibr. Perhaps Merck will pull out of Calibr now.

Permalink to Comment

28. Lyle Langley on March 11, 2013 7:27 AM writes...

@#5 and #8,

These gentlement are much like NFL head coaches - once you get a job you will always be considered a "head" coach, no matter how badly you (and your team) perform. Some of these should just be coordinators (I'm looking at you Norv Turner, Dave Wandstat, Mike Mularkey, etc.); but unfortunately, they resurface somewhere else after a bit of time. These research directors/CEO's are no different. The thinking is, "well, they just weren't in the right situation to succeed", when we all know they created the situation with ridiculous choices. It's only a matter of time before Dr. Kim surfaces somewhere else.

Permalink to Comment

29. Anonymous on March 11, 2013 9:25 AM writes...

#18 = Falsified data is a pretty serious claim. Where's the evidence?

Permalink to Comment

30. Anonymous on March 11, 2013 9:25 AM writes...

#18 = Falsified data is a pretty serious claim. Where's the evidence?

Permalink to Comment

32. Anonymous on March 21, 2013 11:14 AM writes...

#31 It appears the fox will now be occupying the hen house rather than standing behind the fence

Permalink to Comment

33. Anonymous on March 21, 2013 11:15 AM writes...

#31 It appears the fox will now be occupying the hen house rather than watching it

Permalink to Comment


Remember Me?


Email this entry to:

Your email address:

Message (optional):

The Last Post
The GSK Layoffs Continue, By Proxy
The Move is Nigh
Another Alzheimer's IPO
Cutbacks at C&E News
Sanofi Pays to Get Back Into Oncology
An Irresponsible Statement About Curing Cancer
Oliver Sacks on Turning Back to Chemistry