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

« The Herbal Supplement Industry Is Not A Very Funny Joke | Main | Compassionate Access: No Good Answer »

November 5, 2013

Novartis Closing Horsham

Email This Entry

Posted by Derek

The Novartis site at Horsham (UK) appears to be closing down. I heard night that there was to be a (rather sudden) meeting of all the managers there today, and now I'm getting word that they've been told that the entire site will be shuttered. The company had already been talking about "redeveloping" the site, but this would seem to come as a worst-case surprise. More details as they emerge.

Comments (70) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business and Markets


1. fourtytwo on November 5, 2013 7:39 AM writes...

So sorry for all the folks at Horsham; I know some chemists moved there after Pfizer Sandwich closed down so it's doubly hard for them. Yet another blow for what's left of UK med chem. I will be interested to know what efforts the UK government made to encourage Novartis not to close the site.

Permalink to Comment

2. petros on November 5, 2013 7:47 AM writes...

That's terrible news, I know a few there. The site head has not long changed and one or two went when he retired/left

Permalink to Comment

3. Anonymous on November 5, 2013 7:51 AM writes...

Golly, yet another R&D site bites the dust!

Is anyone keeping track of all these biopharma R&D site closures and job cuts across Europe and US? Is there an up-to-date list anywhere?

Permalink to Comment

4. Petros on November 5, 2013 8:06 AM writes...

The site focuses on respiratory R&D and has delivered a fairly full pipeline. Does this also suggest Novartis sees no further mileage in new respiratory therapeutics?

Permalink to Comment

5. Anonymous on November 5, 2013 8:08 AM writes...

They do but in a smaller more boston flavored variety

Permalink to Comment

6. Anonymous on November 5, 2013 8:09 AM writes...

Petros: I heard that the respiratory research is being moved to Boston

Permalink to Comment

7. Anonymous on November 5, 2013 8:14 AM writes...

As well as Novartis, Horsham looking to shut, all research at Eisai, Hatfield is also going. All that seems to be left in the UK for med chem is GSK, UCB, Vertex, and the big CRO's Evotec, Argenta and Biofocus.

Permalink to Comment

8. Nick K on November 5, 2013 8:18 AM writes...

I forsaw this when Novartis closed the production side at Horsham a couple of years ago. I'm deeply sorry to have been proved right.

Permalink to Comment

9. Anonymous on November 5, 2013 8:33 AM writes...

Novartis is just following the herd. Give it a couple more years and they'll start cutting R&D in Basel and the East Coast. This industry really is on its last legs

Permalink to Comment

10. Anonymous on November 5, 2013 8:48 AM writes...

@7 You know something about Lilly?

Permalink to Comment

11. Anonymous on November 5, 2013 9:05 AM writes...

#9 Agree with herd mentality. Over the last few years novartis has been lauded for mantaining research investment and not going down the
outsourcing route. Which appears to have paid off. . . . .

So todays decision is even more baffling. why have they gone for plan B move to cambridge, like everyone else ?
Or is it more to do with NICE/government not paying for certain pills making this is a political act?

Permalink to Comment

12. petros on November 5, 2013 9:10 AM writes...

And @7 has also forgotten AZ, they don't intend to completely wipe out med chem

BTW Peakdale also has a large no of med chemists.

Permalink to Comment

13. beentheredonethat on November 5, 2013 9:19 AM writes...

The never ending saga! I despair for the future of pharmaceuticals in the UK.

Permalink to Comment

14. okemist on November 5, 2013 9:29 AM writes...

Is it funny that Novartis is first ad for MS/BS chemists I've seen for non-academic labs in C&En in quite a while.

Permalink to Comment

15. Indy on November 5, 2013 9:33 AM writes...

@10: Word is they're getting ready to ax people. With Cymbalta losing patent protection next Dec 11, they'll lose 24% of their global revenues.

Lilly's CEO and management is being criticized by analysts that they keep saying "we're ready for the tough times ahead", but they don't gives specifics on HOW they're getting ready and what exactly they'll do about it.

It's no secret they want to reduce costs further (who wouldn't?), and with the trend they have of doing more "in house" work with contractors (I guess "in house" means "on site" and not "by our full-time employees") one can only guess they will let go more full-time people to re-hire them as contractors.

Just a guess...

Permalink to Comment

16. Anonymous on November 5, 2013 10:29 AM writes...

You know, if you work in drug discovery and you read this blog regularly, you might just want to take SSRIs prophylactically. It seems like no matter where you are, it's not going to have a happy ending. I think I'm going to stop on the way home tonight and get a bottle of Jack and a lottery ticket.

Permalink to Comment

17. Anonymous on November 5, 2013 10:30 AM writes...

Surely Lilly UK cannot survive much longer.

Very sad for Horsham folks.

Evotec hiring quite a lot lately so could take a small few.

I personally worked with some of the folks there in a multi-site collaboration that has put a compound currently in the clinic. Respiratory pipe there was made full. It's odd how success doesn't seem to factor in to these decisions.

Permalink to Comment

18. Anon on November 5, 2013 10:38 AM writes...

And the MBAs triumph again.

Permalink to Comment

19. Anonymous on November 5, 2013 10:41 AM writes...

I would love to see a business case 10-15 years from now, on how and why the entire pharma industry drove itself into the ground, despite the fact that everyone could see it coming.

Permalink to Comment

20. Anonymous on November 5, 2013 10:43 AM writes...

@19: At the ultimate expense of themselves and everyone else.

Permalink to Comment

21. NoDrugsNoJobs on November 5, 2013 10:48 AM writes...

In the long run, these sorts of reductions will save lives and make us safer. With lees people focused on poisoning us, perhaps even some will go into the herbal industry or the organic foods industry where they can provide much more effective and completely safe medicines or food that is not stunted by pesticides and sterilization techniques, the world will be healthier and full of good food for everybody.

Permalink to Comment

22. Anonymous on November 5, 2013 10:52 AM writes...

@21 LOL!

Permalink to Comment

23. The Fat Layer on November 5, 2013 11:36 AM writes...

@21: Here's a tree too... Let's hold hands and hug it!

Permalink to Comment

24. Beancounter on November 5, 2013 11:36 AM writes...

Id be interested to know how much money is actually saved by these site closures. Many companies that have contracted massively still seem to report huge drops in profits and often are still operating at sites they planned to exit.

Permalink to Comment

25. The Fat Layer on November 5, 2013 11:44 AM writes...

@24: What I'd like to see is a study showing how all these layoffs and site closures have helped companies in rebuilding their pipelines.

In other words, after all this bloodbath, what tangible significant positive results they have to show for.

Permalink to Comment

26. Anonymous on November 5, 2013 11:46 AM writes...

I recall that consultants came in and advised to close down Merck Serono's beautiful HQ by lake Geneva, on the basis that the top talent would move to Merck's ugly HQ in Darmstadt and take a big pay cut. In the end only 12 out of 1,500 people agreed to relocate, so you can imagine if they managed to retain their top talent...

Permalink to Comment

27. ed on November 5, 2013 11:50 AM writes...

there was the story a while ago about the guy who first cloned GFP and how he was working as a bus th UK he'd probably earn more as a bus driver than as a medicinal chemist, and have better job security and a better pension plan, and shorter working hours and less stress and less university debt. oh how we value our educated people!

Permalink to Comment

28. Anonymous on November 5, 2013 11:54 AM writes...

"In other words, after all this bloodbath, what tangible significant positive results they have to show for."

Further disruption, reduced R&D productivity, and a need for even greater cuts in the future.

Permalink to Comment

29. Anonymous on November 5, 2013 11:58 AM writes...

@27: People need bus drivers, but do we need med chemists? Just a question...

Permalink to Comment

30. Anonymous on November 5, 2013 12:00 PM writes...

#11 time and time again we've seen 'success' makes no difference to whether a site stays or goes. Remote locations are always the easiest to target politically, and hence they get the chop. You're then left with the fashionable (Boston) and home (Basel) sites. Novartis will now chip away there just like all their peers have done before them, circling the drain just a bit further away from the plug hole for now. Follow the herd.

Permalink to Comment

31. The Fat Layer on November 5, 2013 12:12 PM writes...

@29: Excellent question

Has anybody asked that question directly to the CEOs, MBAs, and other fat layers if the ultimate message they are sending to the world is that medchemists are not needed.

Permalink to Comment

32. anon the II on November 5, 2013 12:53 PM writes...

Maybe they're using the savings to open a place in RTP. However, it looks like biologics not medchem.

Permalink to Comment

33. pgwu on November 5, 2013 1:55 PM writes...

@31: They have to live within their means. If they do not get rid of research people, they cannot spend like drunk sailors on CROs. Just look at the profits of those big CROs.

Permalink to Comment

34. Anonymous on November 5, 2013 3:12 PM writes...

the days of pharma are not over. the days of big pharma are. Gilead/Biogen is just the right size

Permalink to Comment

35. DrSnowboard on November 5, 2013 3:43 PM writes...

@12 'AZ don't intend to completely wipe out medchem' Really? Close Charnwood, slash 300 chemists at Alderley to what , 35-40 telephone chemists who don't put a labcoat on? Big up a move to Cambridge, then realise there isn't enough space....
Yeah, rely on AZ to keep the flame burning

Permalink to Comment

36. Anonymous on November 5, 2013 5:48 PM writes...

I don't have all the major Pharma R&D sites closed in the USA and this list may not be absolutely correct, but this is my running total from the press reports. I would like a more complete listing including EU and British site closures as well, so please tack on the site names I am missing or any corrections in any responses to this comment.

Number of large US pharmaceutical R&D sites shuttered in past 20 years - Syntex, Searle, Sterling, Upjohn, Park-Davis, Bayer, Berlex, Alza, JNJ - Ortho, Monsanto, Dupont, P&G, Glaxo - RTP (plus 4 R&D sites around the world), Robins, Knoll (BASF), 3M, Ciba Summit, Burroughs-Wellcome, Rorer, Merrill-Dow, Rhone-Poulenc, Sanofi-Aventis, Wyeth (6 sites), Lederle, Pfizer - New London, AstraZeneca - Delaware (multiple sites in the EU)- Schering Plough - Union site, Merck (ex-US: Merck Frosst and Organon Scotland & Holland plus multiple other EU sites, 8 sites total), Roche - Nutley

Permalink to Comment

37. Pennpenn on November 5, 2013 6:11 PM writes...

@21- It's funny because you're saying that like you actually believe it. Honestly, if herbal medicines were some kind of panacea, as opposed to untested, unregulated snake oil, there wouldn't be a bloody pharma industry to begin with!

Yes, "herbal medicine" might have some effect in some cases, but thinking that it and "organic food" is some magical method to cure all your ills is idiotic at best.

Permalink to Comment

38. MoMo on November 5, 2013 6:33 PM writes...

You want to know why all the closings? Its simple- Pharma wants to retool, bring in fresh scientists with new and harder work ethics.

I hired many from Big Pharma and was repeatedly disappointed by their attitude, uber competitiveness, and juvenile politics at the bench. Outsourcing was just a diversion and duped us all.

What is going on is Brilliant! Just wait. After the Big Clear Out they will rehire and be more careful this time.

Permalink to Comment

39. Chemjobber on November 5, 2013 6:54 PM writes...

36: That list *still* makes me sad.

Permalink to Comment

40. funky bunch on November 5, 2013 7:30 PM writes...

I was interested in being a medicinal chemist. So you go to school for many years. Study your nads off while your classmates are enjoying life. Go to grad school and work for some arogant, egotistical professor for five years working eighty hour days. Do a couple of post-docs for low pay and long hours. Then finally end up in the unemployment line. where do I sign up?

Permalink to Comment

41. Nick K on November 5, 2013 7:48 PM writes...

#38: You ARE having a laugh, aren't you?

#29: The world clearly doesn't need medchemists. Bus drivers now earn more than senior organic chemists at Evotec (26K GBP per annum according to the job offer on their website recently).

Permalink to Comment

42. Anonymous on November 5, 2013 7:54 PM writes...

Oakland CA bus drivers have earned more money than PhD chemists from as far back as the 1960s, plus they get overtime pay.

Permalink to Comment

43. Lu on November 5, 2013 8:32 PM writes...

Is there anything left? ANYTHING?

Permalink to Comment

44. jackass on November 5, 2013 9:14 PM writes...


Plenty left, move to China.

Permalink to Comment

45. Nick K on November 5, 2013 10:09 PM writes...

#44:.....and get paid a Chinese salary.

Permalink to Comment

46. MoMo on November 5, 2013 10:48 PM writes...

No Nick, You get what you deserve and nobody owes you an existence. Big P has been plagued by a sea of sycophants, wimps, do nothings and back stabbers with islands of hard working and diligent scientists.

Its time for a correction and it is what it is.

Permalink to Comment

47. Nick K on November 5, 2013 11:24 PM writes...

MoMo: So you genuinely believe Pharma is getting rid of the sycophants, wimps etc and keeping (or hiring) the hard working and diligent? You clearly have no idea what you're talking about, but keep posting, we all need the laughs!

Permalink to Comment

48. PharmaGossip on November 5, 2013 11:30 PM writes...

There's always Breaking Bad!

Permalink to Comment

49. fourtytwo on November 6, 2013 3:59 AM writes...

Re: 38 and 46, MoMo

You are showing insulting levels of ignorance. In my time working for big pharma I was surrounded by extremely talented and enthusiastic scientists. I was at Sandwich when Pfizer closed it, and the vast majority of people there were snapped up very quickly by other companies or alternative industries who valued their experience and work ethic. Of course, I'm sure they were all wrong and you know better, don't you?

Permalink to Comment

50. sixty on November 6, 2013 6:45 AM writes...

I'll second @49 to bring up the half century. By way of reflection, here are 3 quotes:

1. Make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler
2. Progress always means change, but change does not always mean progress
3. Truth is lived, not taught

Who said which? Options:

a) Hermann Hesse
b) Einstein
c) A Skilful and Talented Chemist I knew well who was made redundant from a major Pharma some years ago

...No using the Internet to cheat!

Permalink to Comment

51. den on November 6, 2013 6:59 AM writes...

Good. I hope all other parts of your business fail, then you won't be able to torture any more innocent animals.

All you people who worked at this animal abusing hellhole, you all have blood on your hands.

I am glad you have lost your jobs.

Permalink to Comment

52. den on November 6, 2013 7:00 AM writes...

Good. I hope all other parts of your business fail, then you won't be able to torture any more innocent animals.

All you people who worked at this animal abusing hellhole, you all have blood on your hands.

I am glad you have lost your jobs.

Permalink to Comment

53. den on November 6, 2013 7:01 AM writes...

Good. I hope all other parts of your business fail, then you won't be able to torture any more innocent animals.

All you people who worked at this animal abusing hellhole, you all have blood on your hands.

I am glad you have lost your jobs.

Permalink to Comment

54. pharmacologist on November 6, 2013 7:45 AM writes...

DEN--it seems like you may need some medication to calm you down--oops all drugs that are currently saving human lives or making for a better qualtiy of life were tested in animals. So I guess you won't take anibiotics for an infection, or chemotherapeutics for cancers, or take something for pain, high blood pressure, blood clots. So the next time you or one of your loved ones has a serious illness--please don't take any drugs for it--I would hate for you to be thankful to those you who lost their jobs.

Permalink to Comment

55. Nick K on November 6, 2013 8:33 AM writes...

Den: I'm genuinely curious to know how you would treat a sick or suffering animal. After all, the drugs which could save its life or ease its suffering have been tested on animals. Oh, and homeopathy doesn't work.

Permalink to Comment

56. Hap on November 6, 2013 9:38 AM writes...

1) If management knew that they had lots of useless people, then if they were concerned solely about profits or concerned with mission as well, wouldn't they have dumped them already?

2) If management hired all these useless people, and helped make some of the mistakes that required job cuts (assuming that it wasn't all bad luck, which is unlikely), what makes you think that they would know enough to only get rid of the deadwood? (Does anyone?)

3) Considering my previous arguments with at least one MBA-sock puppet/parody thing, there is also the possibility that cutting spending is all that matters to management, and sorting sheep from goats is a waste of time and not their problem.

Permalink to Comment

57. MooMoo on November 6, 2013 10:45 AM writes...

MoMo, you have clearly never worked in Big Pharma if you think it's mostly filled with mediocre scientists. With "friends" like this who needs enemies.

Permalink to Comment

58. MoMo on November 6, 2013 10:50 AM writes...

Like I said, Pfizer Sandwich, you get what you deserve! How many patents did you Sandwichs produce in the last 8 years in Sandwich? ZERO! Lots O' academic sounding papers though! Green this, measure that, OH, look at us, were publicating!*

Go ahead and argue all you want, but I am armed with facts even while sitting in the middle of muddy VT field tagging bruins.

Out with the old-In with the new!

Glad you got a job though!

*I made this up just for you British

Permalink to Comment

59. Derek Lowe on November 6, 2013 11:18 AM writes...

MoMo, you need to turn the volume down here. I'm close to going in and clearing those comments. Thanks.

Permalink to Comment

60. R H Bradbury on November 6, 2013 11:56 AM writes...

@58 For the record MoMo (whoever you are), eyeballing the output from a SciFinder Pfizer company search, then refining by document = patent and year = 2009 (from memory the last full year before the Pfizer Sandwich site closed) shows at least 8 published patents originating from Sandwich for the year 2009.

Given that to an outsider to the company it appears Pfizer's patent filing strategy had changed to "late and narrow" around 2005, 8 patents seems a good record for the Sandwich site for a single year. Extrapolating back 8 years from 2009 I'd imagine the site produced of the order of 50 more patents than the zero you so emphatically state, MoMo.

The patents are listed below. Please check your facts in future, MoMo, before lobbing vitriol across the Atlantic. We Limeys are still supposed to be Uncle Sam's closest allies.

Fluorinated 1-aryl-4-cyclopropylpyrazoles as parasiticides, their preparation, pharmaceutical compositions, and use in therapy. By Billen, Denis; Chubb, Nathan Anthony; Gethin, David Morris; Hall, Kim Thomas; Roberts, Lee Richard; Walshe, Nigel Derek. From U.S. Pat. Appl. Publ. (2009), US 20090312371 A1 20091217.
Preparation of substituted purine compounds as CRF1 receptor antagonists. By Brown, Alan Daniel; Klute, Wolfgang; Miller, Duncan Charles. From PCT Int. Appl. (2009), WO 2009144632 A1 20091203
Process for preparation of a triazine containing drug in polymorphic form B Full Text . By Butcher, Kenneth John. From PCT Int. Appl. (2009), WO 2009098612 A2 20090813.
Preparation of pregnadienediones as glucocorticoid receptor agonists for treating inflammatory and allergic diseases Full Text. By Glossop, Paul Alan; Millan, David Simon; Price, David Anthony. From PCT Int. Appl. (2009), WO 2009069032 A2 20090604.
Preparation of azetidines as EP2 antagonists Full Text. By Skerratt, Sarah Elizabeth; Dack, Kevin Neil. From PCT Int. Appl. (2009), WO 2009063365 A1 20090522.
Preparation of phenol compounds active as muscarinic receptor antagonists for treating respiratory diseases. By Glossop, Paul Alan; Lane, Charlotte Alice Louise. From PCT Int. Appl. (2009), WO 2009034432 A2 20090319.
Xinafoate salt of N4-[(2,2-difluoro-4H- benzo[1,4]oxazin-3-one)-6-yl]-5-fluoro-N2-[3-(methylaminocarbonylmethylene oxy)phenyl]-2,4-pyrimidinediamine useful in treatment of conditions such as asthma. By Taylor, Stefan Colin John. From PCT Int. Appl. (2009), WO 2009031011 A2 20090312.
Preparation of imidazopyridinones as TLR-7 agonists. By Jones, Peter; Pryde, David Cameron; Tran, Thien Duc. From PCT Int. Appl. (2009), WO 2009019553 A2 20090212.

Permalink to Comment

61. A Nonny Mouse on November 6, 2013 12:07 PM writes...

And don't forget the drugs from there which have kept Pfizer going... viagra, amlodipine, fluconazole to name 3 which come to mind without much thought.

Permalink to Comment

62. cynical1 on November 6, 2013 12:34 PM writes...

MoMo, It's unfortunate that you hired people from Big Pharma that disappointed you with "their attitude, uber competitiveness, and juvenile politics at the bench". I might humbly suggest that you remove yourself from the hiring process at your company rather than not consider the talent pool with an absolutely staggering amount of institutional knowledge and experience that has been downsized from big pharma. Just a suggestion. From your own admission, your judgement of character during the interview process is obviously extremely poor if you selected scientists with those attributes regardless of where they came from. A little introspection might serve you well on this topic. But it is entertaining for me to watch someone unwittingly highlight their own failings while trying to ridicule others. Thanks for making me laugh. I like cheap entertainment. You see I'm one of those ex-big pharma scientists that doesn't make much money any more.

Permalink to Comment

63. Lyle Langley on November 6, 2013 12:41 PM writes...

Interesting, Dr. Lowe, you would threaten this action. How many times have the Pharma management (idiots all!) been eviscerated on this site with no mention of censoring? However, MoMo attacks medicinal chemists and that's too far? Or is it simply the use (or overuse) of "!" that is too "loud"? As the saying goes, if it's too loud, you're too old - or a touchy medicinal chemist.

Permalink to Comment

64. sublime on November 6, 2013 12:50 PM writes...

It is outrageous that other Novartis employees have to learn about this site closure from the internet. It's been two days and there was not a single email or web posting. Disgraceful! This is really sad news for the people in Horsham. They did an excellent job and the respiratory pipeline shows it! I hope you guys get treated with respect and that you find new jobs quickly. You're always welcome here. -A colleague from Basel

Permalink to Comment

65. sublime on November 6, 2013 12:51 PM writes...

It is outrageous that other Novartis employees have to learn about this site closure from the internet. It's been two days and there was not a single email or web posting. Disgraceful! This is really sad news for the people in Horsham. They did an excellent job and the respiratory pipeline shows it! I hope you guys get treated with respect and that you find new jobs quickly. You're always welcome here. -A colleague from Basel

Permalink to Comment

66. Derek Lowe on November 6, 2013 1:16 PM writes...

Lyle L., the only time I delete posts are when they're nothing but ad hominem, or when someone has deliberately (and harmfully) taken one someone else's identity. It's only happened a few times. MoMo's #58 is getting close to that first category. I'd as soon not have the comments section around here devolve into a mass of flamewar, though, even if some people do get their jollies from that sort of thing.

And as for CEOs and the like, they are public figures and have to expect pointed, personal criticism as something that comes with their job. Plenty of people have been called idiots around here, and plenty more will in the future - hang around, and it'll probably happen to you, too. Somehow, though, I think that "You all deserved to get fired" is of a lower order than "Company X's managers are acting stupid". Neither are particularly high-bit-rate comments, but the first adds an extra note of vindictiveness that seems mostly aimed at stirring things up because, hey, people can be stirred up.

I find it highly likely that you disagree with much of this, given your track record as a commenter. I'm willing to take that as having already been stated, if you're pressed for time.

Permalink to Comment

67. Lyle Langley on November 6, 2013 2:33 PM writes...

No, I don't disagree with much of what you say; however, there have been many times when the middle management (much different that public figures (CEO's), but much like medicinal chemists) have taken the brunt of the wrath from these commenters with nary a word (much in line with, "they all deserve to get fired, because they are evil MBAs"). Just trying to figure out where the line is drawn, with an understanding that it's your call... Unfortunately when you write about closings, there are never any productive comments.

Permalink to Comment

68. Hap on November 6, 2013 4:19 PM writes...

Some of everybody's success or failure is random - since no one knows enough biology, it's hard to predict a priori which candidates you should choose to invest in and not fail lots. So people make choices and sometimes fail and shouldn't necessarily be excoriated for them. Sometimes, those choices are bad, because they were driven by the need for candidates rather than qulaity of them, or required ignoring data (relatively obvious data, not ant tracks in experimental data that no one else called beforehand). You would like to think that if someone's conscious mistakes led to bad outcomes, they would be penalized. You might also like to think that your responsibility would be in proportion to your power to decide or in proportion to your role in a specific, predictable (if it was) failure. It's possible that lower-level management mistakes (missing falsified data, not passing along important data on a candidate) could significantly affect company outcomes, but most likely it's upper management that has decision-making power and responsibility.

When sites are closed, does upper management at those sites get the same treatment as other employees? Do they get proportionate severance or benefits? The assumption is that they get much better benefits than others, despite having a larger role (in theory) in what caused the site to be nuked. Lower-level employees affect the site's fate as well, but their decision-making power is far smaller, and yet probably their responsibility (penalty for failure) is similar to those of higher-level people.

The lack of proportional responsibility in a site's failure probably drives the ire.

Permalink to Comment

69. mep on November 11, 2013 3:06 AM writes...

I am really sorry and have a thought for my ex colleagues.
Novartis has LOTS of money and assets they are losing money with and you should see the amount of money that is spent on the Basel campus. This is nothing to do with cost saving or deliverables or research. Research has moved to China, purely strategic, political and I am not even sure that competency and what will be delivered in the end matters. This is very unfortunate and sad. Good luck to all of you.

Permalink to Comment

70. Anonymous on November 20, 2013 6:01 AM writes...

But really we have to thank the governments for implementing over regulation and bureaucracy into the pharma business driving development of meds up to 4 bilj per registration. Because of this companies had to merge into uncontrollable giants with poor management and lots of waist. And being at the top of those companies misuse of power, the temptation of the money and wrong judgments will lead to lack of trust, so why blame the government for over regulating?
No problem as long as the patients are willing to pay for the costs, and ROI of more than 20% were quite common in our industry. Pitfall is that investors think these ROI’s are still possible while the pressure is on the prices of meds, animal lovers falling over the industry and new meds are harder to find.
The whole concept of developing meds, and having trust in their developers needs to be revised.

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