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Roll of the Dice?

Merck is closing down eight research and development facilities, including ones in Montreal and Cambridge, MA, reports Fierce Biotech. In addition, eight manufacturing plants will close. As part of Merck's purchase of Schering-Plough, the company said it would generate $3.5 billion in yearly savings and the Wall Street Journal's Health Blog notes that this move should save the company between $2.7 billion and $3.1 billion.

This news gets In the Pipeline's Derek Lowe thinking about how those sites where picked. "Some sites that have a long and distinguished history of drug discovery are set to be closed up as if they were so many redundant discount store locations," he writes. He argues that "research cultures vary from place to place" and that nobody knows what makes those cultures work. "It's a combination of the individual people, their managers, the projects they get to work on, the experience that they have (or get) with success ... all sorts of hard-to-deal-with variables," he says.