• Tips gratefully accepted here. Thanks!:

  • Recent Comments

    blueberry on Serial: Yes, innocent people i…
    Monster from the Id on Serial: Yes, innocent people i…
    Monster from the Id on Serial: Yes, innocent people i…
    katiebird on Serial: Yes, innocent people i…
    r u reddy on The Neuroscience of Creat…
    riverdaughter on The Neuroscience of Creat…
    Mr Mike on The Neuroscience of Creat…
    katiebird on The Neuroscience of Creat…
    riverdaughter on The Neuroscience of Creat…
    Sweet Sue on The Neuroscience of Creat…
    riverdaughter on The Neuroscience of Creat…
    Bob Harrison on The Neuroscience of Creat…
    katiebird on Who could have predicted?…
    katiebird on Who could have predicted?…
    Mr Mike on Happy Hanukkah!
  • Categories


  • Tags

    abortion Add new tag Afghanistan Al Franken Anglachel Atrios bankers Barack Obama big pharma Bill Clinton Chris Christie cocktails Conflucians Say Dailykos Democratic Party Democrats Digby DNC Donna Brazile Economy Elizabeth Warren feminism Florida Fox News General Glenn Beck Glenn Greenwald Goldman Sachs health care Health Care Reform Hillary Clinton Howard Dean Joe Biden John Edwards John McCain Jon Corzine Karl Rove Keith Olbermann Matt Taibbi Media medicare Michelle Obama Michigan misogyny Mitt Romney Morning Edition Morning News Links Nancy Pelosi New Jersey news NO WE WON'T Obama Obamacare occupy wall street OccupyWallStreet Open thread Paul Krugman Politics Presidential Election 2008 PUMA racism Republicans Sarah Palin sexism Single Payer snark Social Security Supreme Court Terry Gross Texas Tim Geithner unemployment Wall Street WikiLeaks women
  • Archives

  • History

    December 2014
    S M T W T F S
    « Nov    
     123456
    78910111213
    14151617181920
    21222324252627
    28293031  
  • RSS Paul Krugman: Conscience of a Liberal

  • The Confluence

    The Confluence

  • RSS Suburban Guerrilla

    • This is interesting
      I’ve always hated it when certain things are made of molded plastic. For one thing, it never quite feels clean. Turns out that’s true! Checking into a hospital can boost your chances of infection. That’s a disturbing paradox of modern medical care. And it doesn’t matter where in the world you’re hospitalized. From the finest […]
  • RSS Ian Welsh

    • Exchange Rates 101
      In light of the collapse of the Ruble I think it’s worth revisiting what controls exchange rates. Supply and Demand. Yeah, if you know something about the subject you’re probably shaking your head. Supply and Demand doesn’t set prices in many cases in the way that an Economics 101 course tells you. Such texts will [...]
  • Top Posts

Seasonal Potpourri and other stuff

I’m really considering trying to arrange some kind of discussion around why the drug industry charges so much for drugs and the true cost of research etc. Maybe when I have more time. It is a very important topic and the people closest to the problem seem to be left out of the policy discussions. I think it’s time we hear from them.

Closely related, Derek Lowe at In the Pipeline has a short post about how devastating the mergers have been to R&D. He touches briefly on a subject that Matt Taibbi and Michael Lewis could write volumes about: consultant groups, like McKinsey and BCG. Take about vampire squids and blood funnels. This is a vast untapped area of greed and corruption that just flies under the radar.

Update: Derek posted this morning about the firing of Chris Viehbacher from Sanofi recently. A Whistlblower alleges that this is due to kickback arrangements Viehbacher had with consulting company Accenture and others. It’s intriguing especially because Accenture is all over pharma and I’ve had friends who have had to deal with them before. There is a lot of money involved in an Accenture deal, lots of subcontractors, lots of poorly paid developers in India, many delays, budget overruns and poor products. Think of Obamacare’s rollout. Yeah, like that, only worse. That’s what consultants do for pharma. Am I surprised that Accenture might be involved in unethical activity? Not in the least.

On a more cheerful note, I love Christmas time. It’s not because of the concept of Christmas. Historically, it makes no sense. But I love all the celebrations at the end of the year. I’ve taken a fancy to Solstice because it is a celebration of nature and I love that. Nevertheless, I have a Christmas tree because it is pretty and shiny and reminds me of my grandparents.

But I’ve stayed away from decorating Christmas cookies. It is always my intention to make them every year but I never get around to it. This year, I might attempt something simple, like reindeer cutouts. But check out this Christmas cookie to end all Christmas cookies from youtuber Sweetambs:

She makes it sound so easy. Yeah.

But if red flood icing is not your thing, maybe you’d rather dance. Here’s a line dance to Rudolf the Rednosed Reindeer.

I might actually give this a try.

 

Pharmageddon continues

This time it’s Glaxo Smith Kline (GSK). You may remember that GSK was in the papers recently because it was one of the only big pharma companies with a potential vaccine for ebola. Well, now they’re cutting their R&D staff. According to the rumors flying over at In the Pipeline, the biggest cuts are going to happen at their research park in North Carolina.

How these things typically happen is the pharma in question just eliminates a whole research division or therapeutic area. Your job is not spared because you made your company a zillion dollars on the patent you sold to it for a dollar 10 years ago. I used to be in favor of this quid pro quo arrangement. You give me the means to do my research, I give you the fruit of my labor. But now, I’m not so sure. Like everything else, there are predators in the executive suites and on Wall Street who have zero appreciation for the amount of work it takes to create a new drug entity and plenty of people who think they own it. In some respects, researchers have only themselves to blame for not protecting their own interests, those being the need to earn a living in order to consume calories to sustain life and have a roof over their heads.

GSK’s cuts come on the heels of cuts at Astra-Zeneca, which decided to get rid of its antibiotics research unit. Yeah, try to figure that one out. And then there was Amgen that recently announced that it would cut up to 4000 jobs globally including at its research facility in Seattle. So, while the flood of layoffs in the US R&D industry has slowed down a bit since the high water mark of 2009-2010, it’s still not finished yet. After all, sooner or later, the industry will run out of people to lay off. But we’re still going to see pulses of carnage here and there, dumping more over-educated, over-qualified, experienced and talented chemists and biologists into the already saturated labor market. Fun, fun.

In other news, the left sometimes *almost* grasps what the problem is with pharmaceutical R&D but as soon as those of us who really know what’s going on turn our backs, we get more clueless BS from people like Dean Baker. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to have him on my side. But he doesn’t seem to spend any time talking with people who have actually, you know, been there. There is something bizarrely automatic about the left’s misunderstanding of how drugs get invented and developed. Maybe this has something to do with the complexity of the process. Or maybe it’s just laziness.

Here’s the basic outline of the misunderstanding: The NIH, which we all pay for, does basic research. Then it collaborates with a big drug company and that big drug company turns around and sells that basic research for a ginormous profit. All the big company does is scales the sucker up, runs some admittedly expensive clinical trials, and then produces and markets the drug, delivered fresh and complete from the NIH labs, directly to you the consumer at an enormous markup.

There is just enough truth about the greed of the executive and finance movers and shakers to make this look plausible. Unfortunately, it is one of those beautiful theories easily destroyed by ugly facts.

I don’t want to go into this again because it will take at least several posts to unpack but the NIH rarely delivers a pristine drug to industry. No, the whole idea of basic research is that it is basic. That doesn’t mean it isn’t hard or not valuable. It means there is sometimes little more than a nugget of a something to follow up on. The “drugs” are sometimes nothing more than fragments or completely undruggable. (Undruggability is a whole different topic) Sometimes, there is no drug delivered to industry. Sometimes, it’s merely the suggestion that a specific protein target may or may not be involved in some undesirable endpoint.

The role of industry R&D is to take this very basic research and through many years of real, genuine, honest-to-god research, turn it into something resembling a drug. It is a very expensive process. I’m not surprised at the numbers being batted around. That is not to say that we can’t cut back on the amount of marketing that pharma does. At the end of the day, what is more valuable to you? The researchers that invent an ebola vaccine or the marketers that tell you why you need it? But to get real drugs from real research, a lot of money must be spent in order to pay for many trials and errors and reagents and lab equipment and researchers who need to be fed and housed.

That being said, it sure does look like there is a plan to exploit NIH and academic labs. If you get rid of all your R&D units in the name of shareholder value, or at least cripple them with endless, non-productive mergers and acquisitions and layoffs, you may end up without anything to market. And there are a lot of geeky students out there who are willing to work at subsistence wages to get a PhD. Why not use them as your new staff? That certainly looks like what is happening. It’s a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy.

What is missing in the equation is the experienced R&D staff that will know “when to hold’em and when to fold ‘em” when it comes to actually making the potential drugs. In other words, there will be a lot of reinventing of the wheel in academic labs as they sort through how to do it on limited soft money.

It’s a research strategy only a banker could love.

***********

One bright spot for the journal famished: Nature is experimenting with making its journal archive and current issue available as a free “read-only” version. That’s to circumvent the habit of some poor researchers who have to sneak around to satisfy their paper habit, a phenomenon known as “dark sharing”. You have to know someone who has inside access to a license, usually some friend who is still in industry or someone at a university. This is what we are reduced to: sharing illicit copies of nerdy papers like they’re banned versions of Tropic of Cancer. Read-only versions that you can’t save or refer to later is  better than nothing, I guess, though not quite as good as getting a subscription to Nature and Science for Christmas.

 

Calling all medicinal chemists, time to contact Virtually Speaking

I was mulching my flower beds, listening to the latest Virtually Speaking with Dean Baker and Jay Ackroyd when I heard the same moronic bullshit about how drugs are REALLY all discovered in academic labs using government money and the drug companies just put the finishing touches on them, develop them and charge a small fortune.

I’ll give you the fortune bit, for sure.  There’s no doubt that the marketers and finance guys are charging what the market will bear and then some.  They’re greedy, ruthless and cruel.  The whole drug industry has pivoted to serve the owners and the owners want money.  That affects what gets researched, promoted and sold and at what cost.

BUT

There is absolutely no truth to the idea that academia passes on almost fully formed drugs to industry where we researchers add our special sauce flourishes and then cash in big.

I repeat.

There is absolutely no truth to the idea that academia passes on almost fully formed drugs to industry where we researchers add our special sauce flourishes and then cash in big.

If Dean Baker and Jay Ackroyd and Yves Smith want to propagate this myth, they can knock themselves out.  But it’s no more true that the idea that Bill and Hillary Clinton did something nefarious with a land deal in the Ozarks.

Maybe it’s what they want to be true, maybe it fits their worldview, maybe it’s wishful thinking but it not true.  And I should know because I’ve worked in both industrial and academic settings and I actually DO the kind of drug discovery that Jay and Dean talk about so confidently but have no clue about.

The truth is that academia rarely submits a fully realized drug entity to industry for development.  What it submits is frequently just an idea.  Sometimes, that is just a target (a protein, receptor, gene, etc) and sometimes, it consists of some very basic building blocks.  Those building blocks will not resemble the final drug product until industrial medicinal chemists spend years and years rescaffolding it, making new appendages for it, and developing whole libraries of potential drug compounds that may not resemble the initial compound in the least when they are finished.

So, yes, the NIH funds a lot of research but, no, that research does not result in anywhere near effective or consumable drugs until industrial chemists get their hands on it and bend it to their wills.  By the way, those industrial chemists used to be academic chemists.  It’s not supposed to be an adversarial relationship.

Anyway, for all you pharma researchers out there who are pissed off by the “everybody knows” truthiness and yet more dissing of your shrinking profession and want to set the record straight, let Jay Ackroyd at Virtually Speaking know.  God only knows why Jay won’t simply invite someone like Derek Lowe on his show to tell it like it really is.  It’s almost like they don’t want to hear the truth, that somehow by sticking their fingers in their ears and singing “la-la-la, I can’t HEAR you”, that that’s going to make the poor graduate students working for peanuts into unsung heroes and pump lots of righteous indignation into the put upon American people.  Well, those graduate students ARE unsung heroes, but so are many of my former industrial colleagues in medicinal chemistry and drug design who have slaved tirelessly for years wrestling some academic’s decidedly un-druglike molecule into a real drug that can be developed.

I’m really insulted by this poor performance by Ackroyd and Baker.  The left deserves people who are not lazy and who will actually go out of their way to get to the truth.  Otherwise, the drug industry will continue to fail, drugs will continue to skyrocket in price and no one will be able to do anything about it because they’ll all be off chasing wild geese or red herrings or whatever it is you call it that is just a waste of time and energy.

Jay and Dean aren’t even seeing through a glass darkly at this point.  If they would only come and actually, you know, talk to us, we could tell them what’s really going on so they could talk more intelligently about a subject they clearly know nothing about at the present time.  I’m not sure what is holding them back.  Is it the absurd notion that those of us who work(ed) for industry  are as greedy, ruthless and conservative as the guys who laid us all off?  Even if that were true, (it’s not, not by a long shot) is that a good reason for ignoring what we have to say?

You can’t fix a problem if you are totally ignorant.

Here’s Jay’s links if you want to set the record straight.

Jay on Facebook

Jay on Twitter

VS Guests on Twitter

VS in Second Life

VS Ning

VS on BlogTalkRadio

VS on Facebook

VS on Itunes

And here is Dean Baker’s twitter feed.

 

 

 

 

Pharma can’t find post-doc STEM graduates to do incredibly boring paperwork jobs, hiring managers say

Derek Lowe at In the Pipeline asked for an eye catching headline to summarize a new labor report on the dismal fate of STEM graduates so I thought I’d give it a shot:

The knowledge-intensive pharmaceutical industry had the highest reported difficulty in hiring top talent of the 19 industries featured in PwC’s 2012 Global CEO Survey. CEOs identified talent gaps as one of the biggest threats to future growth prospects.

Research conducted by HRI, including a survey of human resource and R&D executives at U.S. biopharmaceutical companies found (that) fifty-one percent of industry executives report that hiring has become increasingly difficult and only 28 percent feel very confident they will have access to top talent.

Of course, the workplace is not stagnant and the demand for certain skills is always evolving. Seen this way, the data suggest that pharma execs may want the sort of talent that is not on the sidelines or simply clamoring for a different opportunity. For instance, 34 percent say that developing and managing outside partnerships is the most important skill being sought among scientists. . .

Well, it all makes sense to me.  What pharma wants is not scientists, they want lawyers to negotiate contracts and efficiency experts to break down each experiment into a set of easily digestible tasks.  That’s not really science anymore because the ability to think for oneself, analyze procedures and take advantage of serendipity is lacking but nevermind the counterintuitiveness of it all. Chemists and molecular biologists didn’t spent 12 extra years doing lab work in order to push papers around.  They planned to actually work in a lab, not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Funny how you have to tack that apology onto the end of the sentence when you are referring to people who actually get their hands dirty.  We’re working with someone else’s values when it is assumed that the thing scientists would prefer above all things is to work their way out of the lab and never have to touch a chemical or wear a labcoat again.  Well, anyway, they said they don’t want people like that anymore.  You know, those scientific malingerers who hide out in university corridors waiting for a hit of the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry or whiff of stewing e.coli.

This is what happens to an industry that gets taken over by the brain trusts on Wall Street.  They think that any industry that’s not finance can be outsourced and managed by people a little bit like them but who simply have more experience in the lab.  I hope they’re not counting on fresh out of school Harvard PhDs to this work because even they need about a decade’s worth of seasoning before they even know who to manage or what to do to make a project work.

Come to think of it, you don’t need PhDs to do this stuff.  Why not just hire any science type sucker who needs to make ends meet?  We all know how to use Excel and PowerPoint and we’ve all got experience slogging through the badly implemented SAP systems that the executive branch is so proud of.  You don’t need to go to an Ivy League university for 12 years to be a scientifically literate corporate drone.  A BS level employee with a 2 month crash course in drug discovery could probably do it.  I mean, that’s how it’s done on Wall Street, right?  You take some overprivileged  23 year old recent graduates from Princeton and teach them how to do finance in 2 months before they’re set loose on the world.  What could possibly go wrong?

Flee from science majors, little children!  Flee!

In another sign of the times, Derek posts on yet another company that’s had to lay off early stage discovery staff in order to move their two lead projects into development and clinical trials.  That means, the dedicated chemists, drug designers, biologists, pharmacologists, etc will have to pack up their pipettes and find another job.  They probably *won’t* be able to work on the same kind of project again and use their expertise. There goes the mortgage on the house, the car payments, the college funds.  Imagine having to do this every couple of years- if you’re lucky enough to actually work in a lab and not tied to a chair in Massachusetts managing people in Shanghai.

I hope it’s not to much longer before our nation’s leaders realize they’ve been lied to about the promise of “entrepreneurship” in biotech.  The initial overhead costs are among the highest of any industry and a payoff is unlikely.  The big pharmas that are preying like vultures on the promising tidbits on the skeletons of little start ups are the same companies that couldn’t get blockbusters to market after several rounds of M&A and sinking billions of dollars into very badly managed R&D departments.

Believe it or not, there are lot of scientists who are not dying to relocate to Cambridge to work in the offices of big pharma.  The ones who do go to Cambridge and South San Francisco are just postponing the inevitable.  The rest of us would rather take pay cuts for some modicum of stability or get out of science altogether.

Whatever.  What the world needs now is a good plague to wipe out the aristocrats and middle men and let the scientists get on with it without any further interference.

************************************

Zombie Symmetry shows what’s involved in drug discovery these days:

Attention Cory Booker

Screen Shot 2012-12-13 at 10.54.27 AMI saw you on the DailyShow last night and the stuff you said about the state of New Jersey being desperately short of biomedical researchers made me sick to my stomach.

You have to know this is not true.  How could you NOT know this is not true?  It’s so easy to prove with cold hard numbers and statistics.  The big pharmas are pulling out of New Jersey to go to Massachusetts because Massachusetts offered them almost half a Billion dollars in taxpayer money to relocate there.  They are leaving thousands and thousands of us behind.  That’s thousands and thousands of well-educated, technically proficient, TAXPAYERS. That’s where the unemployment money is going, Cory.  Those companies take the money that Massachusetts is offering, dump thousands and thousands of us on the state of New Jersey’s unemployment roles and then relocate only a tiny fraction of their workforce to Massachusetts.  What do they do with the rest of the tax incentives?  Beats me but I’m sure the shareholders are happy.

The idea that you would actually believe a pharma lobbyist who tells you he can’t find good help anymore in NJ and now has to outsource and that you would voluntarily spread this misinformation without actually checking to see if what they’re telling you is true or not defies explanation.  It makes no sense, Cory.  It is UN-believable. You either know that you are willfully lying, compromised by people who you view as your true “peers” or you’re dumber than a box of rocks.

I suggest you spend some time with those of us who used to work for pharma and are now unemployed in New Jersey.  Funny how no politician actually does that.  They’re more than happy to listen to whatever bullshit the financiers and industry propaganda artists tell them but they won’t go down to the NJ Department of Labor and actually check the database for the unemployed from Roche, Sanofi, Pfizer, Merck and all of the other companies that shed employees on a routine basis.  Go check out the shuttered lab facilities in South Brunswick and Bridgewater.  Our unemployment rate is more than 10% in this state and a big slice of it comes from the biomedical researchers who are not employed anymore.

But don’t tell lies on national TV.  It will come back to bite you during your next campaign.  Someone who is that out of touch shouldn’t be representing our state.

By the way, the idea that “the more you learn, the more you earn” is the old paradigm.  It doesn’t work any more. Wake up already or you’re going to condemn a whole generation of New Jersey school children to a lifetime of indentured servitude to pay off their student loans for the low paying jobs they got in a laboratory.  Come talk to us, Cory.  The sooner you get a clue, the better off the school kids in Newark will be.  What we need is a tough negotiator, not more low paid scientists who can’t make ends meet in New Jersey anymore.

Friday: The Big Squeeze

Had a really good day yesterday.  I’m back in the saddle again, sort of.  I have some real work but, unfortunately, no job yet.  But I’m optimistic, especially because 6 months away from the workstation hasn’t resulted in any permanent damage.  It came back to me pretty quickly.

Well, technically, it’s not a unix system- yet.  It’s coming.

In the meantime, I’m not surprised by the recent census data that shows that 1 in 2 Americans is now poor or low income.  The problem with that article is that even though it mentions that college educated families are now suffering, it still emphasizes what we might consider the “typical” poor person.  That person doesn’t have a college education, may be unmarried, has a child “out of wedlock” (fornicators!).  The article is designed to comfort the comfortable.  It’s mostly the uneducated working class that’s suffering and they made some pretty poor life choices.

This would be highly inaccurate, as well as unfair to the struggling 18 year old who, after all, shouldn’t be punished forever for putting the cart before the horse.  It feels too much like The Scarlet Letter morality and that didn’t end well.  I keep featuring the trials and tribulations of the research industry because I’m close to it.  But what is happening in research is an indication of what is really happening to the middle class.  Over 100,000 of us scientists have been laid off since the crash and all the people that I know who have managed to find new jobs have taken very steep cuts in wages, in the neighborhood of 30-50%.  If they’re lucky to get that, they might not have benefits.  It’s funny that we have already readjusted our expectations so that if you are only getting 50% of your former salary but manage to get health benefits from your employer, you’re considered successful.

And we’re not talking about high school graduates with illegitimate children living on Baker Street.  We’re talking about people who have advanced degrees in hard sciences and who just a couple of years ago were making $80,000 plus per year.  Of course, that doesn’t go very far in the northeast unless you have a spouse who works.  It only sounds like a lot of money if you’ve never had to live in central NJ.  But imagine having to pay all of your former expenses (mortgage, utilities, car insurance, food) in one of the most expensive areas of the country, the NYC metropolitan suburb area, on half of that income.  That’s what’s so maddening about the current economic situation.  Our cost of living hasn’t dropped- at all.  Expenses are still the same.  It’s just that you are much less likely to be able to afford to pay them.

I call it The Big Squeeze and I blame the Republican party.  I’m not letting Democrats off the hook here.  They may be in denial thinking, “Oh, it can’t be that bad.  At least not bad enough that I actually should refuse this campaign contribution from Pfizer or {insert some large pharma here}.”  Um, it *is* that bad.  Really, really bad.  It can’t last forever.  I’m assuming that the s%^& is being timed to hit the fan sometime next year in the midst of the election season.  By mid-summer next year, we will see main street dry up.  There will be a lot fewer families taking vacations, kids taking piano lessons, people buying stuff.  There will be more foreclosures, fewer unemployment benefits and an even greater spike in the school lunch program applications.  There will be more insanely rabid Republican crazy voters who have lost all sense of proportion and “christian” charity.  It’s all designed to extract a giant scream of uncle from Americans.  Think of it as economic torture until we give in and sign our hard earned benefits and safety net away.

It doesn’t have to be like this and, honestly, I can’t figure out why the bonus class wasn’t content with the fists full of dollars they were making during the Clinton years.  But for whatever reason, the wealthy and well connected have this ridiculous idea in their heads that they’re the only ones who know how to work hard and that the rest of us are just slackers and parasites.  This is the biggest problem we’re facing.  We are running up against a misplaced attitude of self-worth among the Wall Street crowd.  They have some peculiar notion that because they are rich, they earned that money virtuously while the rest of us are dirty, stupid and lazy.

I’d just like to caution the Democratic operatives out there who may be reading this that that’s a hard argument to make to the research community who have been working their asses off in the past decade to please a management strata that never seems to be satisfied.  Now that I’ve been out of work for awhile, I’ve come to see how mentally abused researchers have been.  Every second of every day is consumed with the thought that the next day could be the last on the job and that their entire middle class existence could be wiped out with the delete key on some clueless MBA’s spreadsheet.  And there’s a sense that the MBAs think that this anxiety producing pogrom against their workers is a good thing, that it puts the fear of  “job creators” into them and teaches them the value of money.  But while unemployment is devastating financially and ruins relationships and is just hard on your kids, the one thing it has in its favor is that the worst has happened and you don’t have to worry about it anymore.  Oddly enough, it gives us time to actually think about science once again and find satisfaction in learning new things.

So, to all of you researchers out there who are losing everything, hang in there as best you can.  I don’t believe this will last forever and there is some evidence that small companies and academia will slowly be able to pick up the slack at vastly reduced salaries but perhaps, not so much layoff insanity.  But The Big Squeeze is too damaging to the economy and will have lasting consequences.  As Jane Caro says, what we are witnessing is a struggle between authoritarianism and small “l” liberalism.  Right now, it looks like the authoritarians have the upper hand.  But even their ravening nutcase followers are subject to the global economy.  I don’t know what it will take to get them on the streets side by side with the occupiers but if I were politicians, I’d be worried right now that maybe they’ve gone too far.  The poor are not just the fornicating 18 year olds with no place to live.  They’re now the labcoated men and women who used to do the science fairs at your kids’ schools.  They’re extremely angry right now and they vote.

In the meantime, it’s still a beautiful world.  That tends to make the current economic situation a little easier to bear.

PS. I will be visiting Philadelphia more frequently in the forseeable future.  If there are any bloggers there who would like to get together for lunch or dinner, email me.  Yes, the traffic is atrocious.

More layoffs in Pharma

Yeah, yeah, I know, lefties would care about us except we’re *pharma*.  Your (lack of) concern is truly touching.

This latest layoff is from Sanofi-Aventis in Bridgewater, NJ.  Hundreds of scientists will be losing their jobs.  20-30% may be transferred to the Cambridge facility.  Looks like NJ just lost a bunch more taxpayers.  There’s not a lot of upside to the layoff of more of my friends and colleagues.  There are a lot more of us biomedical researchers on the market now.  With the recent announcements of layoffs from Merck, Novartis and Amgen, it’s almost as if the spigot was opened full force again.  What is happening to pharma right now would have someone like Steve Jobs spitting nails.  The entire focus has been on extracting every last dollar out of the company and abandoning the product line.  It’s hard to predict what comes next but pharma can’t be bled dry forever and the Chinese are not ready to take over yet.

Geeks are people too and we have caloric and shelter requirements like everyone else.  I would say I am surprised that the Obama administration is not paying greater attention to this problem but by the time the effects of so many unemployed researchers finally hits the American consciousness, he will be out of office.  What might have happened if he had taken Christina Romer up on that suggestion of $100 billion for a jobs program?  We might all be working our butts off in some mothballed lab somewhere, carrying on with the research we were doing, living on decent but unspectacular salaries and paying our taxes.

But since we are not all male construction workers, Obama isn’t worrying his pretty little head about us.

No one is entitled to a second term.

 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 472 other followers