Are You From Jersey?! Big Pharma's From Jersey!

New Jersey
New Jersey

There I go again showing my age with that dated reference to Jersey's own Joe Piscopo and his schtick. But it's to make a point.

New Jersey, where I live and work, is known as "The World's Medicine Chest" or "The Silicon Valley of Pharma." Johnson and Johnson is headquartered here. Merck calls NJ home. Schering-Plough is based in the Garden State. Celgene headquarters are located a short drive from my house. Wyeth lives here. Sanofi-Aventis, Novartis, Roche, AstraZeneca, and NovoNordisk, just to name a few, all have major operations in Jersey.

Former Goldman Sachs Chairman and now New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine has to be beside himself. His state is already reeling from the banking crisis because of its proximity to and dependence on Wall Street. And now a consolidation wave in big pharma is threatening to take the state under. Gov. Corzine came on CNBC recently and said he was on his knees begging the CEOs of PFE and WYE not to turn Wyeth's sprawling NJ campus into a white elephant. If Merck buys Schering or if, as some analysts are hinting today, JNJ buys Schering you can bet SGP's Kenilworth, NJ HQ will be downsized or shuttered.


Pfizer is HQ'd in Manhattan. It has a big building in midtown within walking distance from Grand Central Station. I get that it's centrally located for a lot of commuters, especially from Long Island, Connecticut and Westchester (kind of a New York City suburb) because trains from those points go straight into Grand Central, but it's gotta be an expensive piece of real estate.

For example, last week I did my interview with new Sanofi-Aventis CEO Chris Viehbacher inside the company's Manhattan office on Park Avenue. I'm told that 500 people used to work there. But since SNY bought Aventis there are now only three people working out of a drastically reduced space. Three people in SNY's NYC office! It's essentially just a small, but nice, prestigious address "for show," for meetings and, I guess, media interviews with execs. Couldn't PFE, which claims it's hyper-focused on cutting costs, do the same by moving folks out of Manhattan to, let's say, Wyeth's buildings in NJ? I'm just asking the question. That's all.

And I'm not just asking because I don't want my property taxes to go up in order to make up for the loss of tax revenue from big pharma evacuating NJ.

By the way, I'm not from Jersey. I'm from L.A., but both of my parents came from Jersey.

Questions? Comments?