PETER ROST: PHARMA MARKETING EXPERT WITNESS. AWP, MEDICAL DEVICE EXPERT.: Pfizer CEO announces 10,000 job cuts and Wyeth CEO warns against "arrogance."

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Pfizer CEO announces 10,000 job cuts and Wyeth CEO warns against "arrogance."

Pfizer's CEO, Jeff Kindler, just announced that the company will cut 10,000 jobs around the world and slash annual costs by up to $2 billion by 2008. This amounts to 10 percent of Pfizer's worldwide workforce, on top of a previously announced plan to cut costs by $4 billion a year by 2008. So a total cost reduction of $6 billion.

Pfizer said it will close a production site in Brooklyn, New York, a plant in Omaha, Nebraska, and research operations in Ann Arbor and Kalamazoo, Michigan; Nagoya, Japan; and Amboise, France. The total number of plants will be reduced to 48 in 2008 from 93 in 2003.

Meanwhile, Wyeth's CEO Robert Essner, was quoted in the WSJ today, saying: "No company has ever been No. 1 in this industry two decades in a row -- or two decades ever. In most industries there's some movement, but not the kind of rise and fall that you see in this industry. One problem is this sense of entitlement -- believing that you've kind of got it figured out. But all it is is that the guy before you was pretty good at discovering a few brilliant drugs. How do you become great and not become complacent, not become comfortable, not become arrogant, not think that you're entitled to success?"

Some in the drug industry think the Pfizer organization might learn from Mr. Essner's sentiment. As for me, I think this is the beginning to Pfizer's downsizing, not the end. Pfizer will be forced to make significant additional cuts over the years to come and we will continue to be disappointed by Pfizer's feeble attempts to launch new drugs.

The 80/20 rule is well and alive in the drug industry in general and at Pfizer in particular. 20% of the efforts generate 80% of the results, but the 80% aren't cut because management isn't sure of what is really going on in the organization.

Pfizer has grown into an arrogant organization that thinks it walks on water. But now reality is starting to set in. In my opinion, Mr. Essner expressed what that reality is inside Pfizer.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congratulations Peter! Those Pfizer Pfuckers are finally getting what they deserve! How the mighty have fallen!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

No, not really. The executives and decision makers are insulated from the effects of their bungling. It's the hardworking and dedicated staff who suffer.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Getting what they deserve? 10,000 people losing their jobs and all you can say is that?

The perception is that Pfizer is arrogant because it's the largest. I've worked at other pharma companies in development and they all run and act almost identically - it's freaky how similar they all are with their downright stupid organizational inefficiencies, excessive layers of management and inability to take reasonable risk. But arrogant? nah... Maybe you mean Pfizer executives? If so, what fortune 100 companies do you know with a bunch of humble, loving executives?

Blogger Peter Rost said...

I've worked at several drug companies and seen the inside. Interviewed at even more. Pfizer is unique when it comes to attitude. That's what becoming #1 does to some people . . . they forget they'll meet everyone they passed on the way up on their way down.

Anonymous Alex said...

It's amazing that large corporations of all types still seem to have a knack for putting the wrong people in charge. Even the US and it's wannabee-CEO.

Blogger Benedict 16th said...

Dear Anonymouse 3,
Sorry, but even down under, Pfizer reps would have to be the pushiest (and the lowest), and the actions of the company would have to sail the closest to the frontiers of legislation, of any single pharmaceutical company (that is including MSD!!!!).

anybody else?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cutting just begets more cutting; it's not a solution, but the start of a death spiral. One Pfizer shrinks to nothing, with shit morale in the ranks, It'll be swallowed by another Pharma Co., and all those "protected" Pfizer Execs will be out on their asses too.

Anonymous Alex said...

It's amusing.

All these giant pharma corps are great at selling complexity and self-importance. This is why the US no longer leads the world in anything except debt and weapons of mass destruction.

Thank goodness the rest of the world grew up and didn't lose focus on what to do. Hopefully they've learned a lesson.
Cheap, safe drug kills most cancers.

Anonymous Alex said...

Cheap, safe drug kills most cancers

What makes cancer cells different - and how to kill them

It sounds almost too good to be true: a cheap and simple drug that kills almost all cancers by switching off their “immortality”. The drug, dichloroacetate (DCA), has already been used for years to treat rare metabolic disorders and so is known to be relatively safe.

It also has no patent, meaning it could be manufactured for a fraction of the cost of newly developed drugs.

Evangelos Michelakis of the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada, and his colleagues tested DCA on human cells cultured outside the body and found that it killed lung, breast and brain cancer cells, but not healthy cells. Tumours in rats deliberately infected with human cancer also shrank drastically when they were fed DCA-laced water for several weeks.

DCA attacks a unique feature of cancer cells: the fact that they make their energy throughout the main body of the cell, rather than in distinct organelles called mitochondria. This process, called glycolysis, is inefficient and uses up vast amounts of sugar.

Until now it had been assumed that cancer cells used glycolysis because their mitochondria were irreparably damaged. However, Michelakis’s experiments prove this is not the case, because DCA reawakened the mitochondria in cancer cells. The cells then withered and died (Cancer Cell, DOI: 10.1016/j.ccr.2006.10.020).

Michelakis suggests that the switch to glycolysis as an energy source occurs when cells in the middle of an abnormal but benign lump don’t get enough oxygen for their mitochondria to work properly (see diagram). In order to survive, they switch off their mitochondria and start producing energy through glycolysis.

Crucially, though, mitochondria do another job in cells: they activate apoptosis, the process by which abnormal cells self-destruct. When cells switch mitochondria off, they become “immortal”, outliving other cells in the tumour and so becoming dominant. Once reawakened by DCA, mitochondria reactivate apoptosis and order the abnormal cells to die.

“The results are intriguing because they point to a critical role that mitochondria play: they impart a unique trait to cancer cells that can be exploited for cancer therapy,” says Dario Altieri, director of the University of Massachusetts Cancer Center in Worcester.

The phenomenon might also explain how secondary cancers form. Glycolysis generates lactic acid, which can break down the collagen matrix holding cells together. This means abnormal cells can be released and float to other parts of the body, where they seed new tumours.

DCA can cause pain, numbness and gait disturbances in some patients, but this may be a price worth paying if it turns out to be effective against all cancers. The next step is to run clinical trials of DCA in people with cancer. These may have to be funded by charities, universities and governments: pharmaceutical companies are unlikely to pay because they can’t make money on unpatented medicines.

The pay-off is that if DCA does work, it will be easy to manufacture and dirt cheap.

Paul Clarke, a cancer cell biologist at the University of Dundee in the UK, says the findings challenge the current assumption that mutations, not metabolism, spark off cancers. “The question is: which comes first?” he says.


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