Tuesday, January 23, 2007

New Year New Guesswork

Back from an extended New Year's break (New Zealand, thanks for asking. Very nice.) with a bit of uncharacteristic futurology.

Pfizer, the pharma giant who have a UK base in Sandwich, and who very kindly sponsored my PhD without seeing too much of anything in return, bless them, have just announced they're going to cut 10,000 jobs worldwide.

Now, this is significant for graduate employment (and graduate unemployment) in the UK this year, particularly if you're a chemistry graduate as it looks like they might not be doing too much of a recruit this year. This will make the already-tough market for chemists just a bit tougher - and if Pfizer are taking a bit of a hit, then others might well be as well.

A lot of this is rooted in the bad management and short-termism that led to cuts in R&D budgets in the 90s, when double-digit growth was the norm in the industry. Pfizer became top dog in the 90s because, in the early part of the decade, at a time when other companies were paring back their development in favour of mergers and acquisitions, they maintained a strong R&D role. For a while, they were a real anomaly, having not bought anyone. But they went down the same route and without that strong product pipeline, are paying the penalty. Let's hope it's just a blip and doesn't signal worse times for the UK pharma industry - a sector of colossal importance to UK science.

Update 24/01/07 - Pfizer say there will be 250 jobs lost in the UK, at the moment.

Update 7/02/07 - AstraZeneca have followed suit with announcements of job losses.
Update 8/02/07 - AZ will cut 3000 jobs world-wide, with considerable concern that the UK will be heavily hit.

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