Pfizer buying Wyeth. Merck buying Schering-Plough. It’s pharma mega-merger season again.
I hate it.
“Market conditions” | “Complementary pipelines” | “Operational synergies” blah, blah, blah. I’ve heard all the explanations and rationalizations dozens of times before.
Analysts are looking at numbers. I’m looking at faces.
Every one of these mergers has a huge price tag that is rarely weighed in the balance. It’s called disruption.
- Really good people end up losing their jobs, simply because they are re-labeled from “contributor” to “redundant”.
- Creative and promising initiatives are stopped dead in their tracks, and often taken out back for burial.
- Healthy corporate cultures are destroyed.
- Productivity nosedives for month after month, as no-one knows what (if) their job will be in the future, and the inevitable jockeying and posturing takes over.
- Agencies and service providers that served one (or both) companies are thrown into a tizzy and lose large volumes of work.
- Any residual notion of corporate loyalty in our professional arena erodes further, with subsequent resentment and disenchantment.
I remember, with fondness, rubbing shoulders with the folks at Parke-Davis, at RPR, at HMR, at Pharmacia, at Aventis, at Wyeth, at Takeda. I remember bright and motivated people, imaginative programs, interesting corporate cultures, strong professional relationships. And I remember the disruption with every merger or buyout.
Yes, yes, I know that some mergers may actually pan out with an upside down the road (certainly not always, however!). And, some folks get a big payday out of these events. But sweep aside all those numbers, and if you’re involved in the industry, you see people. And pain. I hate these mergers.
Lisa Creech Bledsoe says
You’re not alone — a bit nervewracking, isn’t it?
Mark Davis says
Ditto. Leads to huge under-the-radar inefficiency for very long times. Narrows the creativity of these companies. Bigger ain’t better.
Suki Fuller says
You read my mind.
I agree. In the midst of one now. It seems to be all about Money and not is what is best for the patients & contributors of the science.
When will we learn?
Brian McCarthy says
Steve. Great points here.
There is no doubt about the elimination of jobs and reduced competition. The Business Pundit says, “Now you can buy your Advil, Centrum multivitamins, Preparation H, condoms, Lipitor, and Viagra from Pfizer. Their theme: “We have the whole body covered.”
The M&A of large corporations helps their bottom line. It is contrary to good public policy. I ask what happened to anti trust and monopoly laws?
John Kouten says
Agreed. Parke Davis, Warner Lambert, Pharmacia, Wyeth…RIP. I know this is heresy, but perhaps big pharma should consider divestitures to overcome financial issues. Based on the past, size has not adequately solved big pharma’s woes. Kudos Mr. Woodruff for speaking the truth.
Bill Senger says
Once again, Steve nails another one. And now Roche is buying out Genentech. I cannort imagine two corporate cultures that could be so dissimilar. Forget about the casual Fridays and Ho-Hos guys, there’s a new sheriff in town.
Few people engineering M&As consider the money and effort lost in ongoing projects that are left in limbo when a talented product manager or training director is made redundant. And with every merger there are probably hundreds of consultants who have either been paid a retainer to start a project that will never see the light of day, or have already begun work on a project that will never be paid for. I doubt if that cost shows up as a line item on the balance sheet.
Thandie Gray says
Do Not feel sorry for Wyeth Personnel!
Instead pray and pray some more that Pfizer does all it can to eliminate the headache of the Wyeth upper level personnel.
The heads of Wyeth and its leadership are amongst the cruelest people that you can get… they calculate and plot their destructive scams.
Feel sorry for Pfizer!
The Wyeth business meetings are about who they can hurt, who they can damage or betray next , what contracts they can breach, not sign, ignore, or not pay.
Pfizer …..take control and crush them!