It’s the Holiday Season: Time for More Job Cuts in Pharma

Posted in BioBusiness, BioJobBuzz

While the holiday season (beginning on Thanksgiving) is supposed to be joyous, it is usually the time of year that many life sciences and other large corporations announce job cuts. As expected, two companies, Mylan and Lilly announced today that they will be cutting the size of their work forces and laying off employee.

Mylan, whose CEO was forced to appear before Congressional committees because of the company’s egregiously high price it was charging for EpiPens, announced that it may lay off of as many as 3,500 workers. The reason for the layoffs was to “reduce redundancy” that resulted from Mylan’s $5.3 billion acquisition of Abbott Laboratories generic drug business, the $7 billion it paid to purchase the Swedish drugmaker Meda and the $1.0 billion for several topical skin medications from Renaissance Holdings. The layoffs will purportedly impact less than 10% of Mylan’s global workforce and help to cut costs and refocus operations at the generic drug manufacturer.

Likewise, troubled pharmaceutical manufacturer Lilly, whose CEO abruptly retired earlier this year announced that it was trimming its US pharmaceutical sales force. The announced cuts were related to the recent Phase 3 failure of the company’s Alzheimer’s project solanezumab. A company spokesperson did not disclose the number of sales representative who would lose their jobs.

Finally, this past September, the Danish company  Novo Nordisk, a world leader in the diabetes market, announced it would layoff 1,000 employees worldwide to cut costs and focus it efforts on developing “truly innovative” diabetes products.  Meanwhile, behind the scenes, speculation suggests that the layoffs are in response to payer pressures that are being brought to bear in the US, the company’s largest market.  Many of the cuts are expected in R&D where innovation has been lacking according to company executives.

Although these jobs cuts are taking place, the good news is that these workforce reductions are smaller than those announced in holiday seasons past!

Until next time

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting


AbbVie to Fire Hundreds of Sales Reps

Posted in BioBusiness

AbbVie, the prescription drug spinoff of Abbott Laboratories revealed that it will be laying off several hundred cardiovascular sales reps. The fired workers will be a mix of full time sales personnel and contract workers.  The reason: generic encroachment of its cardiovascular drug franchises. Among those drugs is TriCor, which began facing generic competition in November. TriCor, along with related medication Trilipix, generated $1.1 billion in U.S. sales for AbbVie last year.. Niaspan, an extended-release version of a medicine to raise HDL also will face generic competition this year It sold $911 million for AbbVie in 2012

AbbVie is shifting its focus from primary care, such as drugs that treat a patient’s cholesterol, stroke or diabetes, to so-called specialty medications in areas of unmet health needs

AbbVie is jumping on the elimination of sales personnel bandwagon and joins Eli Lilly which late last week announced that it plans to dismiss hundreds of sales reps tomorrow, a spokesman confirms. The cuts may amount to 30 percent of the companywide sales force in its BioMedicines division, which includes the cardiovascular, neuroscience and Men’s health units Likewise, last Fall, NJ-based Bristol-Myers Squibb layed off 480 sales reps.

Based on the events of the past five years, it may not be a good idea to pursue a career as   a PhD-trained life scientist or a pharma sales rep!  Surprisingly, however, there is a growing need for biopharmaceutical/biotechnology sales reps….go figure!

Until next time…

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!!!!!!!!!

Abbott Slashes 700 Jobs From Its Medical Devices and Diagnostics Unit

Posted in BioEducation

Chicago-based Abbott Laboratories today announced that it would lay off 700 employees from its medical devices and diagnostics division as part of an ongoing restructuring effort. 

Most of the layoffs will take place in the Chicago area and affect employees that manufacture the company’s cardiovascular stents and diagnostic tests. According to a company spokesperson approximately 500 persons who work in stent manufacturing and 200 who work in diagnostics will lose their jobs.

The restructuring of Abbott’s manufacturing operations began several years ago and about this time last year the company layed off about 1,900 employees in Lake County, Illinois.

In October, Abbott surprised investors and analysts with the announcement that it would spin off its branded drug business, including Humira (psoriasis and rheumatoid arthritis) it’s largest selling branded pharmaceutical product. Company executives argued that the split would allow stakeholders and investors to separately and more accurately value Abbott’s other less risky businesses which include nutritional (baby) formula, generic drugs and medical devices and diagnostics.

Despite signs of economic recovery, it appears that layoffs are still occurring at a pretty good clip at many pharma and biotech companies. It now appears that medical devices and diagnostic company employees, who were once immune to downsizing and reorganization, are now fair game.

Until next time…

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!!!


Breaking Up Is Hard to Do: Abbott Labs Announces Plans to Split into Two Separate Companies

Posted in BioBusiness

Abbott Laboratories today announced that it will split itself into two companies by spinning off its branded prescription drug business and creating a second company responsible for its medical implants, diagnostic tests and baby formula businesses.

The pharmaceutical company will exclusively sell its branded prescription drugs (including its blockbuster biologic Humira) and will be lead by Abbott’s Richard Gonzalez who currently head the company’s pharmaceutical business. Current Abbott CEO Miles White will lead the diversified medical products company. 

The reason for the split is to allow investors to value each of the companies on their distinct characteristic. Abbott’s decision to split the company is consistent with the prevailing notion that companies that sell both prescription drugs and consumer products don’t perform well. This led Bristol Myers Squibb to sell off its medical devices and consumer products divisions several years ago. Interestingly, prescription pharmaceuticals/consumer products/medical devices were de rigueur in the 1990s and early 2000s. Abbott’s decision leaves companies like Pfizer, Novartis and Johnson & Johnson as examples of the few remaining companies that still house pharmaceuticals, devices and consumer goods under one roof. Don’t be surprised if in the future these companies also decide to spin off or divest themselves of their consumer goods/medical devices divisions.

Finally, while the split may be good for investors, it may not be that great for Abbott employees. Usually, spin offs or divestitures

Until next time..

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Abbott Laboratories and Progenics to Cut Jobs

Posted in BioJobBuzz

Abbott Laboratories today announced it is eliminating 160 jobs in an attempt to shore up its diagnostics business. Most of the job cuts (150) will take place at the company’s Santa Clara, CA production facility. The remaining jobs will be eliminated at Abbott’s North Chicago corporate headquarters. 

Similarly, Tarrytown, NY-based Progenics announced that it was undergoing a strategic reorganization and it will reduce headcount by 38 or 26% of its staff. The company recently closed it manufacturing facility and discontinued work in virology and infectious diseases, the therapeutic areas that the company was founded on almost 25 years ago. The company is now working in the oncology area and has a prostate cancer diagnostic monoclonal antibody in early clinical development. 

Progenics has one approved product, RELISTOR (methylnaltrexone bromide) a subcutaneous injection treatment for opioid-induced constipation. Regulatory approval is pending for the use of RELISTOR to treat chronic, non-cancer pain. A Phase III clinical trial of an oral formulation of methylnaltrexone is in progress.

Until next time…

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!!!!


What's Up With FDA Inspections Anyway?

Posted in BioBusiness

BioJobBlog readers who understand Current Good Manufacturing Practices (CGMP) for pharmaceuticals and biologics know that the US Food and Drug administration is mandated to review approved drug manufacturing facilities once every two years. While this is the mandated inspection schedule, most industry insiders know that manufacturing plant inspections now take place once every three or more years. This has resulted because of an increased reliance by US drug makers on foreign manufacturing facilities to produce licensed pharmaceuticals and biologics, a lack of regulatory oversight by the agency during the Bush administrations and funding shortfalls that have resulted in a shortage of FDA inspectors.

Congress recently took the agency to task about a lack of oversight for food and drugs manufactured in foreign countries. In September, the Government Accountability offices reported that FDA inspects foreign drug facilities on average once every nine years as compared with every 30 months or more with US plants. To correct this, FDA announced that it aims to increase reliance on third party inspectors in other countries to maintain better oversight of ex-US manufacturing plants. In other words, it is less costly to train and work with inspectors already in foreign countries rather than send US inspectors overseas.

In a post last week on the Pharmalot Blog, Ed Silverman reported that Bloomberg News reviews almost 10,000 inspections at US manufacturing plants from 2000 until September 30, 2010. While the Bloomberg report did not provide details on the frequency and nature of violations uncovered at the inspections, the results of the reports were eye-opening. According to Ed:

“The FDA makes 0.9 visits, on average, to each facility each year, compared with 0.6 visits annually when George W. Bush was in the White House. Looked at another way, the agency NOW visits each of the 2,567 plants registered in the US almost once a year.”

Further he noted:

“Some of the biggest drugmakers do not have a good track record when it comes time for FDA inspectors to visit their plants. Overall, the FDA found violations at 54 percent of plants inspected last year, up 20 percent from a decade low in 2007, according to data obtained from the agency by Bloomberg News. And 80 drugmakers failed more than half of their inspections.”

So, which companies had the poorest inspection track records? Ed noted

“Abbott Labs failed 59 percent of 111 inspections; Pfizer flunked 57 percent of 202 inspections; Merck bombed out on 52 percent of 134 visits and Johnson & Johnson failed 48 percent of 161 inspections. By contrast, [generic drug manufacturer] Mylan passed 79 percent of 56 inspections!”

Republicans are threatening to slash FDA funding for US inspections mainly because the agency is focusing more on overseas manufacturers and suppliers. In response to the funding cut threats, the Obama Administration proposed that drug manufacturers whose production plants fail inspections would be required to pay fines of roughly $49,000. At present, there are no mandatory fines levied against drug makers that fail FDA inspection (the agency can and does impose fines if companies that fail inspections refuse or are reluctant to fix the problems that were uncovered).

I find it interesting that despite the numerous drug recalls and problems with drug safety of approved drugs over the past few years that the Republicans, could in good conscience, threaten to cut FDA funding to increase the frequency of inspections to bring them in line with the mandated once every two years rather than once every 2.5 to 3.0 years that has been the norm for the last decade.

Until next time….

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!!!!


Abbott to Cut 1,900 Workers

Posted in BioJobBuzz

According to a post on the Pharmalot Blog, Abbott Laboratories today announced that it will eliminate 1,900 jobs or six percent of its workforce. The company cited its thinning pipeline and the current challenging regulatory environment for the corporate reorganization and downsizing. In other words, we are having trouble getting our new drugs approved and we can’t afford to continue to pay people’s salaries and benefits who aren’t delivering for us. The Pharmalot post didn’t provide specifics on the layoffs.  However, Lisa Madden a Delta  Pharma Recruiter and BioCrowd member  sent me a message and told me that 1,000 of the layed off workers were onsite employees and the remaining 900 were sales reps

Like it or not, this is the new reality for life sciences R&D types, So, if I were a  graduate student or postdoc considering a career in the life sciences industry, I highly recommend a well developed and carefully thought out “Plan B.”

Until next time,

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!!!!


Abbott to Shed 3,000 Jobs

Posted in BioJobBuzz

The Pharmalot Blog today reported that Abbott will be cutting about 3,000 jobs. The downsizing comes about a year after Abbott purchased Solvay Pharmaceuticals for about 6.2 billion but failed last month to find a buyer for the Solvay vaccine unit (which was expected to fetch about $600 million). 

According to the post, most of the jobs will be eliminated in R&D, manufacturing and commercial operations mainly at former Solvay Pharmaceutical sites in the Netherlands and Germany. Also, Solvay’s current US headquarters in Marietta Georgia will be closed in the near future.

Abbott has approximately 90,000 employees worldwide. While the recession may be officially over the job cuts continue and unemployment continues to rise.

Until next time…

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!!!!!!!!


Big Pharma is Betting on Emerging Markets to Lift Profits

Posted in BioBusiness

It is no secret that growth of the pharmaceutical industry has slowed to single digits in the past five years or more. In fact, many experts don’t expect there to be double digit growth in this sector for a long time. Instead, future robust growth of the pharmaceutical industry is expected to take place in emerging markets including India, China, Brazil, South Africa and others. This is because the economies of these countries are booming and the middle class in these nations continues to rapidly grow. 

While branded prescriptions drugs once dominated Western markets, it is likely that generics or branded generic products will be the major players in emerging markets. Because of this, big pharma companies such as GlaxoSmithKline, Daiichi Sankyo and most recently Abbott Laboratories have either purchased or crafted large marketing deals with smaller regional drug manufacturers.

Daiichi Sankyo paid $4.0 billion in 2008 for a major share of India’s Ranbaxy Laboratories and GlaxoSmithKline earlier this year acquired exclusive rights to over 100 products produced by Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories, another Indian drug maker with a broad reach in emerging markets.

Today, Abbott Laboratories announced that it would purchase the healthcare business of Piramal Healthcare Ltd, one of India’s largest purveyors of branded generics for $3.72 billion. When the deal closes, Abbott will inherit the rights to about 350 brands and trademarks and a manufacturing plant in northern India. Also, Piramal agreed to a six year non-compete agreement for branded generics. The remaining parts of Piramal include a custom manufacturing business, over-the-counter products, vitamins, diagnostic devices and Piramal Life Sciences a drug discovery company.

The company, which has India’s largest sales force, would become a subsidiary of Abbott Laboratories and employ about 7,500 workers. Last week, Abbott said it would license at least 24 products from Zydus Cadila to sell in emerging markets. Analysts estimate that emerging markets account for 20 percent of Abbott’s business. The Piramal and Zydus Cadila deals suggest that Abbott maybe the company to reckon with in emerging markets in India and elsewhere.

 Until next time…

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!!!!!!!


Another Biotech Company Bites the Dust

Posted in BioBusiness

Abbott Laboratories yesterday announced that it will buy Facet Biotech Corp. for about $450 million in cash. Facet, along with its development partner Biogen Idec, had planned on moving a potential monoclonal antibody (MAb) treatment for multiple sclerosis called daclizumab into late stage clinical development in the second quarter of this year. The company is also developing several different cancer treatments with other pharmaceutical partners.

Abbott’s purchase of Facet signals Abbott Laboratories’ ongoing commitment to biotechnology or protein-based drugs. The company launched Humira (a fully human MAb treatment for rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory diseases) several years ago and it has managed to glean market share from older competitor’s products including Remicade (Johnson & Johnson) and Enbrel (Amgen/Pfizer) to become a blockbuster drug. MAbs are viewed by many as the “drugs of the future.” At present, there are over 350 MAb-based products in various stages of discovery and clinical development.

Earlier in the year, Biogen Idec offered to purchase Facet for $17.50 per share. Company executives and shareholders rejected the offer citing that they thought it was too low. Abbott offered $27 per share which represented a 67 percent premium to Facet’s closing stock price of $16.21 on Tuesday.  Both companies’ boards of directors have already approved the deal which is expected to close some time in the second quarter. It is not clear how the purchase will affect Facet employees but expect to see layoffs and a mass exodus by company executives.

Look for more cash purchases of biotech firms by pharmaceutical companies as debt continues to accrue and venture money remains scarce and difficult to come by.

Until next time…

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!!