Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Roger Perlmutter is God's gift to reporters

After this quote about Roger Perlmutter's direct reports 'betting their jobs' and then yesterday's gem (covered here by Derek Lowe) about Merck needing to lay off chemists in order to hire more biologists, I was beginning to think that Forbes reporter Matthew Herper has some sort of magic mind ray that makes Perlmutter and other sources start spilling their guts unwisely.

But, no, with this latest quote from a Reuters interview (noted by "nameless" at ItP), I think Dr. Perlmutter just likes to talk: 
But the situation Perlmutter faced was sobering. Merck had introduced no important innovative medicines since 2006, when it won approvals for Gardasil, the first vaccine to prevent cervical cancer, and a new type of diabetes drug called Januvia. 
A trail of disappointments had ensued, including failed studies of cholesterol treatment Tredaptive and migraine drug telcagepant and ongoing regulatory delays for osteoporosis medicine odanacatib. 
"I had one of our very senior chemists express to me her concern that maybe she just isn't any good at this," Perlmutter said. "She got to the point where she really doubted her own ability. And that level of self-doubt has an effect on people's performance." 
Perlmutter said some promising developments with new drugs were beginning to lift morale, including a closely watched cancer treatment called MK-3475 that works by harnessing the immune system, highly potent new oral therapies for hepatitis C and an improved version of Gardasil.
Something tells me that this sort of comment is made to one's management in some level of confidence and the chemist in question wasn't expecting her quote to go out on the wire services in service of Dr. Perlmutter's rescuing-Merck's-confidence narrative. 


  1. Perlmutter seems to think that a complete lack of self doubt is necessary to lead a company to huge profits. Or is it he is using any excuse to get rid of someone say after a couple of years to see if he can find a younger better model.

    Wait a minute...didn't he do that to his wife too?

  2. Never ever EVER be honest with your manager is the lesson here.

  3. A cursory search of Medline suggests that Perlmutter is a biologist from academia. I wonder if this is some of the reason for his contribution to the decimation of Chemists on his watch. Maybe he just doesn't deeply appreciate what they do.

  4. Interesting: Perlmutter's ability to "navigate" through all of the places he has been his "ability to develop and defend a point of view" (2:58)

    I think that this could say a lot, namely, something like this: "I'm right, not so much because the data is comprehensive enough to suggest that I am correct, but because my logic is more sound and convincing than yours. Therefore, your opinion should be disregarded, even though it could be right".

    This may suggest that he may have a personality more for a debater that ba truth-finder.