Update: this post came just a few days before Teva announced that they’re starting a 14,000-job cutback, to run over the next two years. The season indeed.
Unfortunately, the Thanksgiving-to-Christmas season is a traditional one in the drug industry for layoffs and site closures. This is especially true for larger companies, who time these things more; smaller ones can hit the money wall at any time in the year. This is when (ten years ago) they announced that all our jobs at the Wonder Drug Factory were going away – not long before Thanksgiving, actually, just to make things more festive – and there are plenty of other examples.
Unfortunately, there are more. Eli Lilly doesn’t seem to have made an announcement about it, but it looks like they had a substantial headcount reduction in their Discovery Chemistry Research & Technologies department at the end of November. I’m told that there was about a 25% cut in that group at the Erl Wood site in the UK, and cuts in Indianapolis as well. This was presumably pursuant to this this earlier announcement in September.
And out in San Diego, Dart Neuroscience is closing entirely, with a letter from its founder stating:
“Despite the continued effort of an extraordinarily capable and dedicated team of scientists and the investment into research and development of well in excess of seven hundred million dollars, the company has not generated adequate signs of any human memory improvement or motor rehabilitation”
Who would have imagined that you could plow seven hundred million into neuroscience drug discovery and get no return? I mean, other than anyone who’s actually done any neuroscience drug discovery, that is. It’s not that I fault this as a business decision, but the strict business-decision mode would have probably mandated that you flee as quickly as possible from this area before putting money into it in the first place. Memory and cognition have vast unmet medical need, as they say, but as black-box therapeutic areas go they are matte, flat, stealth-bomber black. Dart will be closing as of February, which makes you wonder if this UCSD seminar series will have to be renamed.