Firms turned to mergers and acquisitions to fill pipelines. The shifts have cost drugmakers dearly, Roth says, both in the loss of thousands of talented scientists who’ve been laid off and in the lost diversity of approaches to tackling problems. “We’ve eaten our own here,” he laments. “Since we got to the 21st century it’s been all about layoffs and cutbacks and mergers and offshoring.” [snip]
Roth himself has been on both sides of the chopping block. He was one of several thousand laid off in 2007 when Pfizer closed the Ann Arbor, Mich., site where he worked. He’s also had to let go scientists who worked for him, and he says he understands the cost pressures that lead companies to those decisions. Still, “as an American chemist it is something you agonize over,” Roth says, “because it isn’t clear where U.S. chemists trained in organic synthesis and medicinal chemistry are going to find their jobs in the future. [snip]
“I have been really fortunate to work in what I think we will look back on as being the heyday of the pharmaceutical industry,” Roth says. “The sad thing looking back at my career is that as an organic chemist there are very few things that I could’ve imagined that would be more rewarding than making medicines. And yet in the future, there will be many fewer positions like mine.”You know, I don't know how many prominent chemists it will take to sound the alarm about the future of jobs in pharmaceutical chemistry (medchem and process) before someone actually does something about it. Too late, maybe?
(In a darker mood, I wonder if every single US-based grad student in organic chemistry should be forced to read this article and write a 100 word essay on what they plan to do when they graduate. Happy Monday.)
(I also wonder if the closing of the Ann Arbor site will be seen as some sort of inflection point in this saga; it seemed like there were so many jobs lost for relatively little gain on the part of Pfizer. Maybe I'm wrong.)