Pfriggin’ Pfizer Pfirings…


Originally published in the Grand Rapids Business Journal, January 29, 2007

Recently Pfizer, the world’s largest drug maker, did what companies of all flavors do: they announced a reorganization, consolidation, budgetary adjustment, fiscal refinement, monetary re-alignment. In other words, the sacked a whole bunch of people. And among the sackies were 2000 or so workers at a research and development center in Ann Arbor. Ann Arbor is home to the main University of Michigan campus and as a college town has not had to deal so much with the massive layoffs that other Michigan towns have been experiencing for, oh, the past 25 years.

The news wasn’t shocking. Pfizer has been struggling of late; it will soon lose exclusive patents on some of its biggest money-makers and new products in their pipeline have been failing miserably. Still, when you’re Michigan and you’re doing your level best to transform into a state with professional, high-paying high-tech jobs, losing a significant hunk of scientific research paychecks is, as our Governor Granholm described it, “a punch in the gut.”

So the point of the comic was pretty much just to commiserate with that. Losing your job sucks, and unfortunately it’s a common experience in the modern work world — if not firsthand then at least having felt the whoosh of the swinging ax as it passed you by. You have to move on, of course. And not by trying to pass a law will fix everything because (and I don’t think I’m overusing the adverb here) that never, never, ever, never, ever works. No, I think it’s a dynamic mix of industry, government, and individuals facing the reality and working together on solutions. First step though is to acknowledge that it is, in fact, painful.

Unless, of course, there were a pill you could take. It’s a huge market. Perhaps Pfizer should look into that….

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