Sunday, November 22, 2009

Huge drug firms laying off research staff

There was this news report last Thursday from Nature magazine.

Published in Nature 462, 375 (18 November 2009) | 10.1038/nj7271-375e

Huge cuts by drug firms

R&D closure is the latest in a series of hits to drug companies.
Pfizer is closing 35% of its global research and development space, according to a 9 November announcement. The New York-based drug company, which employs 14,500 people in research and development worldwide, has said that R&D personnel cuts associated with the closures will make up a significant percentage of the 15% company-wide job cuts planned. Pfizer, which last month acquired US drugmaker Wyeth, has disclosed no further information and did not return phone calls by press time. In early November, US drugmaker Johnson & Johnson announced plans to lay off about 8,000, but did not reveal how the cuts would affect its R&D personnel.

I asked guys in our local health coalition here in Manila, including those who favor bigger government intervention in healthcare, "Is this a good or bad development?"

No comment so far from any of them. For some people who dislike global capitalism in general, and big multinational pharmaceutical companies in particular, this should be seen as a positive development. New tools or policy schemes like compulsory licensing (CL) and drug price control are meant mainly to hurt the big multinational pharmas, not the local pharma. For instance, in the current drug price control policy, not a single product by United Laboratories (Unilab) was included, although Unilab is the biggest pharma company in the country, with sales equivalent perhaps to the combined sales of 2nd-3rd and 4th biggest pharma firms (GSK, Pfizer, Wyeth).

So if the big pharma multinationals are hurting, like even their patented drugs in the country are covered by price control, and the laying off of more than 1/3 of their R&D staff, in the case of Pfizer, then those who oppose big multi pharma should rejoice. Their goal is to publicly hurt, if not obliterate from the global economy -- using various government restrictions and regulations -- the big pharmas that they accuse of making huge profit at the expense of poor patients.

But those people do not realize, or at least they do not recognize, that those big pharma are the ones that invest huge money in high risk medicine innovation. The often glorified local, generic pharma companies do not risk their money and resources on medicine innovation, despite the fact that people around the world are demanding more innovative, more revolutionary medicines and vaccines.

Meanwhile, the US Healthcare Bill is 2,074 Pages Long...

I was surprised to read this update from Grover Norquist's facebook status, regarding the US healthcare bill. He noted,

"A word search of Sen. Harry Reid’s 2,074-page Senate healthcare bill (H.R. 3590) reveals that the term “tax” is used 183 times, “taxable” is used 164 times."

2,074 pages for a single bill? I doubt if even 10 percent of all US legislators will have the patience to read all pages of that bill.

Well, I'm not American, and I don't know most of the nuances of that bill. It's just the 2,000+ pages length of that bill that confounds me.

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