Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Tough times for medicinal chemists confirmed by ACS salary survey

From December 6, 2010 issue of Chemical and Engineering News
David Pittman's article on medicinal chemistry in the December 6 issue of C&EN is worth noting (I'm surprised that none of the usual suspects have mentioned it), but I found the chart to the right particularly noteworthy. He summarizes the data in this web exclusive.

The unemployment rate for ACS members is about 3.8%, with a U6-like rate of 10.4%. The rate for medicinal or pharmaceutical chemists is 5.5%, which is about 44% higher than all ACS members (assuming my calculations are correct). The U6-like rate is 12.2%.

I also note the lower percentage of part-time medicinal chemists, which is an interesting number. Hard to say whether I expected higher or lower numbers for that.

I am loathe to trust data that confirms my preconceived notions, but I think it's safe to say that it's a tough time for medicinal chemists. Recovery won't happen for pharma until these numbers improve.


  1. Glad the ACS is trying, but those numbers are likely to be highly bogus. Scraping single-digits in some categories that really matter, and the inherent "ACS members we contacted who chose to participate" bias. What's the true sampling frame (how did they choose their population)? What's the response rate? What was the geographic spread? "Simple random sampling" is not nearly as simple as you might think, especially given the socio-economics of ACS contact.

  2. E-S: Your concerns about the ACS Salary Survey are legitimate; that being said, it's the best data that we have.

  3. From what I've seen, quite a few medicinal chemists who found employment switched fields

  4. Lot's of medchem phone interviews are for fishing purposes. I actually had one in 2009, that ended with "if we get some positions to fill in the future, I'll give you a call".

  5. "Recovery won't happen for pharma until these numbers improve. "

    These numbers are improving, just not in the US. It seems that every few months you hear of a new facility being built in Asia. Asia is expanding so quickly that they are now outsourcing to South Africa. If the American economy collapses maybe eventually South Africa will outsource to the US! Though that can't happen unless the US government shrinks its control over chemical regulations in the US. That's not going to happen anytime soon unless the FDA goes bankrupt.


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