Derek Lowe has two items worth reading -- start with this article in The Atlantic, where he offers a good description of the layoff situation in pharma (with a particular focus on the recent Pfizer/Wyeth and Merck/Schering-Plough mergers). "Research scientists in the drug business are going through what may be their worst and most uncertain period ever," he writes. "The real problem is the same as it's been for some years now: we're not producing enough good new drugs, and we're spending too much money to discover the ones that we have."
In a blog post, Lowe says that pharma scientists shouldn't dwell in fear. "I think that, in the years to come, that people are most definitely going to need medicines. And by that, I mean new ones, because there are a lot of conditions out there that we can't treat very well," he adds.