GSK whacks its employees, hard

"The results of a stupid person performing the functions of a smart person will be mostly stupid." - Felix Fulmer.

Apparently, GSK's senior managers believe the Path to Greatness is through downsizing.

At "GSK: Money-Green Outside, Pink-Slip Inside", medicinal chemist and blogger Derek Lowe reports massive layoffs today and tomorrow at GSK, largely in R&D. What is interesting is a near complete radio silence on this; for example, as of 10 PM EST June 10, Google news shows nothing about this on the query "GSK."

Some of the comments made by readers of Lowe's "In The Pipeline" blog caught my attention. These are:

anon on June 10, 2008 1:23 PM writes...

Apparently, this [the layoffs - ed.] may have been foreshadowed by someone back in October 29, 2007: see

10-29-2007, 10:11 PM

An honest insider post, the REAL future at GSK.....I have had access to executive level discussions regarding the GSK layoffs. I am posting this information from an anonymous "business center" computer location. I won't say anymore, except that my credibility is legitimate.

I understand that rumor, speculation, and misinformation is running rampant right now through out the entire GSK organization. I feel that the lack of communication with our sales force regarding the true intentions of this company is regrettable. I personally know quite a few of the excellent employees of GSK that will be terminated.

I am dismayed that executive level management has so little regard for the employees welfare. Yes, I remember the Zantac Hawaii trips! This is why I am being honest with you.

GSK is planning a second round of layoffs that will occur immediately before second quarter earnings are announced in 2008. Projected sales forecasts for Avandia family over the next six months are dire.

The current layoff scenario has been structured to appease shareholders and Wall Street analysts.

The layoff in 2008 will be attibuted to the new management team. They hope to be given credit by the Street for taking decisive action in the face of declining revenue. This may shore up the stock price at that time.

So you ask, "Why not just lay every one off now?" There is a good answer. The GSK Senior Executives very closely studied the Pfizer layoff from last year. Do Executives from different companies talk with each other? Yes, they do. Pfizer management noted that after the layoff, a significant portion of the sales organization was demoralized. This resulted in many subsequent resignations as Pfizer sales people found new jobs on their own. This resulted in Pfizer not having to pay these people severance packages. The net: Pfizer saved a tremendous amount of money by having a layoff followed by enhanced attrition.

GSK is planning the same situation. This is why the current layoff in not as large as it really needs to be. Two smaller layoffs is more cost effective than one large one.

I have been honest with you. If you survive the current layoff, there is no guarantee you will survive the next one in June 2008. Plan for your future accordingly.

I realize on Cafe Pharma some people will bash this information as false. However, you might be surprised how many people in VERY senior management read this board. They need to know that some managers still care about the employees. The point is, do what is best for you and your family.

I have to admit, it is sad to see what has happened to this once great company. I really hope GSK can recover, but nothing is guaranteed. Best of luck to all of you.

Apparently, this "leak" was quite real.

This also caught my eye, though it is quite severe in its characterizations:

satan on June 10, 2008 2:33 PM writes...

This is what happens when MBAs and other sociopathic losers run any company. Unfortunately most traditional industries in the US and the western world are affected by these sociopaths. Some may object to that term- but let us call this particular evil by it's real name.

They infest companies, destroy the existing good stuff, stop real innovation, bring in their helpers, pillage it for their bonuses, kill the host and move on - not unlike viruses. However most people, including shareholders, do not see it for what it is - parasitic infestations. They still bask in the BS about creative destruction in capitalism.

Wake up, this is about oligarchy, extreme short term profit for a select few and control. In the end it will ruin everyone, including those who initially profited from it.

But I guess ultimately human beings get the society they want and deserve.

The pharmaceutical industry is indeed in sad shape. Why this is so is no mystery.

Mismanagement in such a complex industry by people often seemingly more interested in short term profit and their own personal gain, and in kissing the ass of Wall Street instead of long term goals of actually discovering, developing and marketing innovative new drugs and advancing the frontiers of science, is apparently a feature of the landscape.

While there are many rationalizations about why we have such a situation, and while some of the rationalizations contain many reality-based truths, you'd be nuts to believe such an arrangement could actually produce good results.

I can only hope the GSK people responsible for the informatics debacle here: link - got the axe.

I have been speaking with policy makers with a major role in overseeing the pharmaceutical industry recently. If I am able to work with them, one of my first goals will be to convince them that an essential effort required to salvage the industry will be to promote rigorous scientific, informatics and other competency qualifications for the leadership of the companies, and for the leadership of the regulatory agencies.

-- SS

Addendum: Lowe at "In the Pipeline" blog reports the numbers coming from Reuters were low overall. However, Lowe offers additional criticism that is worth reading.

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