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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.


11 Responses

  1. Helllloooooo! Where is everybody today?

  2. I can’t speak for anyone else, but this lefty has nothing against you or your colleagues.

    Of course, I don’t trust your so-called superiors in the suites any farther than I can throw any one of those buildings in your picture, but that’s true of the bigwigs of any corporation.

  3. Crap, RD — this is starting (!!!) to be scary. The limbo of drug development …. how low can we go?

  4. RD, it is not worker bees we don’t care about or don’t trust. It is the bean counters and Imelt wannabes we don’t trust. Why are americans paying so much more for certain drugs than other people? Americans have been screwed by medical and pharma companies for years. It is becoming too expensive to get sick. My nephew died last year from a tooth infection because he had no insurance and could not afford the emergency room where they probably would not have treated him anyway. They would have told him to go to the dentist on monday…..but he was dead by monday. Would they have given him a prescription for an antibiotic he could not afford?
    Jobs have been leaving this country for 35 years. Automation on top of jobs leaving have made many in the USA unemployable except for the most menial of jobs. Did you notice or care? Or was it just when it happened to you that it became real?
    Jobs that sustained this area left 20 years ago. Now we are having a resurgence with the gas drilling. Can you remake yourself in to a geologist? Probably easier than women sewing in factories can become teachers or nurses. If you can you can get really high pay for the next 100 years. This has been the reality for other people for decades.
    I hope you can get one of the research jobs left. But if not be prepared to shift gears.

    • There are no research jobs left in my area. There are plenty of biology positions that require a PhD to do things that don’t really require a PhD.

      As for worker bees and the bean counters, you may be surprised to find that the worker bees do not feel as though the left had discriminated in its intense hatred of pharma. This is going to bite them in the ass someday, probably sooner than later. When there are no new antibiotics for the next out of control bacterial infection they’re going to start to complain, “Why doesn’t anyone make new antibiotics anymore??”

      I just listened to Dean Baker last night on Virtually Speaking and I don’t think even *he* gets it. There has been a Sherman’s March through the research industry and all of the destruction has been of the worker bee variety. You can not expect people to study these hard subjects for this long to be tossed aside so casually in the middle of their careers. Other people will see their ruined lives as a cautionary tale and will stop going into science. Furthermore, $37,000 a year is not a living wage for people who have studied subjects that would give the average American nightmares.

      As for whether I noticed that jobs were leaving this country, you have not been paying any attention. I was there in Pittsburgh in the 70s-80s when the steelworkers lost everything. Some of those people were my relatives. I’ve been caring for a long time and have written about it on numerous occasions. But what seems to have escaped your notice is that the educated middle class are faring no better than steelworkers. I *DO* expect you to start having some kind of empathy for us. Because that is the future for your children. If we can’t make it, your kids most certainly won’t. And it’s not like we have been living lives of the rich and famous. We live in fricking NJ where a nice salary gets eaten up by expensive housing, property taxes and other nasty artifacts of living in the suburbs of NYC. We are losing everything including our own health insurance and prescription drugs. How is it better for us than a steelworker who was once a well paid union guy with a nice house in McKeesport, PA and a boat he took to the rivers on the weekend? We are no better off than your nephew. No, I am not exaggerating.

      Try harder to get over your resentment of the pharma researcher, Teresa. The country’s technological edge depends on it.

      • Not just the country’s technological edge, but our lives may depend on it. It doesn’t seem like enough people will understand until lawyers, journalists, and CEOs get outsourced. Then the outcry will be too intense to ignore and it will be far too late.

  5. Came across your blog today in a rather roundabout way… Atrios links to article on NewDeal2.0 baout the shitty jobs report, where you have the most interesting comment about biomedical layoffs, which leads me to click through your nick to here.

    I’m sharing this article with a few folks, because I have a good buddy who works for what was formerly Schering-Plough in Kenilworth in the oncology research division. As I’m sure you know they were bought out by Merck a few years ago, and last week he informed me that a bunch of the people in his unit are getting laid off (my friend, so far, has fortunately not been, but who knows how long that good grace will last?)

    This fact, and the Merck buyout, spawned a great deal of heated discussion among our circle of liberal-progressive smarty-pants friends (in addition to my bio researcher friend, I am a space systems software engineer with postgraduate physics degree, and another friend is a former historian who now works in finance). My historian friend spits nails at the fact that Merck even still exists as a company at all… after willfully ignoring the advice of its own researchers on the safety of Vioxx, the company deserved to be sued into bankruptcy. It only survived due to – what else – a bailout! The government couldn’t bail Merck out directly, but it did bail out AIG, which transferred funds to Merck.

    And why did Merck buy Schering? And what’s going on now with the layoffs? I asked this question to a high school buddy of mine, who is now in fact a medical director at Merck. He said Merck bought Schering because it had gutted its own research division after the Vioxx debacle, and had no new drugs (the lifeblood of a pharma company) in the pipe. Schering had a promising new drug in the pipeline, and Merck wanted in on the action. Unfortunately for them, this drug didn’t pan out as hoped, so now they’ve blown their money for nothing. And who suffers? The now-former Schering employees who were conscientiously doing their job.

    Now you say that lefties don’t seem to give a damn about layoffs in “Big Pharma”… From my experience above what I can say is they care deeply about them, because *the wrong people are being punished*! The problem lies not with the conscientious researchers doing good scientific work, but with the corporate overlords who make the bad decisions on how to use that work to feed the quarterly numbers. And when their birds come home to roost, if the fat cats are punished at all, the worst that happens is they’re voted off the board which activates their handy employment contract “golden parachute”! Bonus!

    This is a microcosm of the fundamental problem across all areas of our society, and is the root cause of why thousands are #Occupying everywhere. The problem is, I have no idea how to arrange things so that the guilty actually do get punished! Well, not entirely true, there are plenty of ways — but which would all provoke hysterical screaming fits about “government control of industry! Communism! Blargle!”

    What would y’all suggest to remedy the problem of punishing the guilty while preserving the jobs of the dedicated and honest worker at Big Pharma or whatever other company?

  6. Medical research should be completely government funded and should take place at the Universities. All discovery becomes property of the common good. Hire back all the Labrats and set them loose all across the country to solve this country’s medical problems.
    Then we can get climate scientists to conduct research at the Universities, too.

    Let’s get this rolling.

    Ok ready to be told why this will never happen…

    • If that is our only option at this point, it’s something we should consider. But the academic salaries will have to double. $35K is not enough to live on for the average PhD.

  7. “Where is everybody today?” Science and technology are somewhat intimidating blogsubjects. They just are even when they don’t mean to be. So a lower-than-normal reply-count for scientech-related blogposts may be a standing reality which may have to be lived with.

    Yes, no one deserves a second term. But the only way to prevent Obama from getting a second term is if enough people wage enough active and effective countermeasures. And it will not be enough to defeat obama. We will have to defeat . . . and destroy . . . and “exterminate” the entire Democratic Party establishment which conspires with him to prevent a primary season today.
    I can think of a possibly-effective two-step strategy which might work. First, all those Democrats who would rather not have to vote for Obama again to prevent a militant backwardite stupidite Obscurantist from getting elected . . . whould all re-register Republican just long enough to vote for Romney in the Republican primaries, because Romney is the least militant backwardite stupidite Obscurantist of the Republicans seeking the nomination. IF! Romney”s nomiination can be secured and assured, THEN unyhappy Democrats will be set free to vote for someone other than Obama. Do “write-ins” actually get noted, even if not counted? If they get “noted”, then if a single write-in name could be agreed upon for all those millions of unhappy Democrats to write in; that would be an laserly focused protest which might melt too big a hole in the Democratic Party to be ignored. What name comes to mind? Well . . . why not “Hillary Clinton”? Millions of people recognize that name, and millions of write-ins for Hillary Clinton would be millions of bitter humiliations for Obama and the Golden Sacks Rubinite Democratic Party, especially if the one-two punch (all vote Romney in the R primaries, then write in Hillary in the general) could actually defeat and delete Obama.

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