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Jan
30

Pharma Vulnerability Index

After yesterdays post about the closing of the AZ site in Bangalore and a few Tweets with Peter Kenny and Derek Lowe about the vulnerability of anyone working in big pharma, I was mulling who would be next.

Its hideously sad, but the reality is no site appears safe. For example in recent years – we have seen big pharma sites close in Ann Arbor, Kalamazoo, and even the Sandwich site. Obviously this is just a sample of what I am sure people thought would forever be pharma centers of excellence. But companies merge, downsize and outsource and then Bam! close. Thousands of jobs just go overnight.

So what if there was a Pharma Vulnerability Index, simply put which company site will face the axe next. Bangalore was pretty small, the size of a biotech in the US. Could we compile a listing of which sites are close to going, companies due to merge or in the offing etc..

So lets think for example – Lilly have just had a terrible run of luck (and in full disclosure I worked there up and till the end of 2001). Would anyone seriously think they would close the site in Indianapolis? Well what if they merged with another pharma and that site was surplus. 150 years + of pharmaceutical history gone. OK so that is just an example, far fetched, but they have cut back sites in Europe and in Indiana in recent years.. Then there is Pfizer (I used to work for them 1998-1999) many of the sites described above were theirs, but they closed them. What would stop them closing a San Diego or Groton, Yes right Groton, unthinkable right? Well they closed Sandwich and that was unthinkable. Then there are all the ex Roche, Merck sites that have cut back or gone. Shadows of their former self.

I know its awful but we need to give folks at sites facing the possible axe some heads up. I have avoided small pharmas because they can just go with the failure of a clinical trial – they are too explosive to even predict – although it would be interesting to see if there was any typical descriptor that predicted implosion.

Could we just list each pharma and each site and rank their vulnerability..E.g. recent discussion of Merck and Novartis Vaccine  (I have a family member that works for them) site swaps. or what about Sanofi (I have a family member that works for them too) and their US vs European sites.

So here is a preliminary top 5 list to work on and enlarge:

1. GSK – Tres cantos – works on neglected¬† diseases. With AZ’s closure of Bangalore, what is to say GSK do the same thing.

2. Merck / Novartis Vaccine site swap possibility Рwhich site will possibly  close?

3. Lilly – any site ?

4. Pfizer – any site – San Diego, Boston then Groton?

5. BMS – any site?

There are many Pharmas but I could imagine more mergers happening and that will result in the end of sites and more jobs gone. Its a terrible thought but on the positive side what will emerge out of the ashes (a topic of future discussion).

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