The Beat Goes On: More Layoffs at Life Science Companies

Posted in BioBusiness

Despite assurances that the economy is improving, many life sciences companies are still continuing to downsize.  According to the Pharmalot Blog New Jersey-based Mylan (a generic drug manufacturer)  is laying off nearly 120 people from its specialty offices in Basking Ridge, New Jersey, as part of a reorganization that will consolidate the specialty operation near its Pittsburgh headquarters. The cuts were disclosed in a state filing. A spokeswoman says some employees may relocate. The company is also closing a specialty pharmaceutical plant in Napa, California, later this year which will result in the lost of 270 additional jobs.

Likewise, Massachusetts-based Alkermes  plans to eliminate up to 130 jobs from a plant in Ireland  and, last week, Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMY) revealed that roughly 300 employees will lose their jobs as part of a plan to close the San Diego headquarters occupied by Amylin Pharmaceuticals, which was acquired by BMS last year.

Today, another New Jersey company Unigene that is investigating delivery of proteins and peptide-based drugs announced that it would cut up to 40%of it workforce as it reorganizes and tries to stay in business.

Finally, Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis said Tuesday it is consolidating its U.S.-based eye disease research projects in Cambridge, Mass., and closing the Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research group on its Alcon Labs campus in Fort Worth. About 120 employees in Fort Worth were told Tuesday their jobs will end June 11, The employees will be allowed to apply for jobs in Cambridge as well as for other positions with Alcon. Novartis acquired Alcon, an ophthalmic drug company in 2011 and has been working for the past few years to consolidate all of Novartis’ eye research centers in one location in Fort Worth.  Alcon currently employees about 4,800 people.

While these layoffs are noteworthy, the size of these layoffs pale in comparison to the carnage that took place in the pharmaceutical industry over the past five years. According to Challenger Gray & Christmas, the recruiting and consulting firm more only 3,100 pharmaceutical employees lost their jobs this year. However, Ed Silverman, who writes the Pharmalot Blog mentioned in a post today that “there is industry speculation that Merck will undergo more job cuts.”

Although the industry is still shedding jobs, it is likely that the worst is over and that new job opportunities will emerge in the US and elsewhere over time.

Until next time…

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

More Downsizing on Both Sides of the Atlantic

Posted in BioJobBuzz

Cambridge, MA-based Alkermes announced today that it is restructuring its operations following the termination by Eli Lilly and Company of its inhalable AIR Insulin program (Alkermes manufactured the inhaler delivery device). The company is reducing its workforce by approximately 150 employees and closing its AIR commercial manufacturing facility in Chelsea, MA. The company is taking these actions based on its current expectations of the financial impact of Lilly’s termination of the AIR Insulin program.

The job cuts, effective this week, represent almost 18% of Alkermes’ total workforce. Employees affected by the restructuring will be eligible for a severance package that includes severance pay, continuation of benefits and outplacement services. The company expects cost savings from the restructuring in the range of $15 million to $20 million in fiscal 2009.

In other news from across the pond, the trade group, the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI), reported today that the UK pharmaceutical industry lost about 8.000 pharmaceutical jobs or about 10% of its workforce over the past three years. The ABPI asserts that there is a direct link between job cuts and changes to the British government’s pricing mechanisms for medicines. A spokesperson for the group said “Every time a new PPRS (Pharmaceutical Price Regulation Scheme) comes into force there is a decline in the number of jobs”. Not surprisingly, the group is urging the government to not make any changes in the PPRS.

The UK pharmaceutical workforce has taken a number of big hits of late– Pfizer recently closed a manufacturing plant in Kent, while British drug makers AstraZeneca and GlaxoSmithKline both announced substantial global job cuts many of which were located in Britain.

Until next time….

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!!!

Inhalable Insulin: Not Worth the Effort?

Posted in Career Advice

The Danish drug maker Novo Nordisk announced today that it was halting further clinical development of its inhalable insulin product called AERx. AERx was in Phase 3 clinical testing as a short-term diabetes treatment. In a press release the company stated that it was halting development of its inhaled insulin compound because the drug was "unlikely to offer significant clinical or convenience benefits" versus current diabetes treatments.” AERx joins Exubera (Nektar Therapeutics/ Pfizer) on the inhalable insulin scrap heap. This leavesEli Lilly and Alkermes’ IR insulin system as the only inhalable short-acting diabetes treatment in Phase 3 clinical development.

Interestingly, Novo didn’t say that it was giving up on developing inhalable insulins— only that it was halting its current late-stage AERx program. The company did announce that it plans to pursue a Glucagon_Like Protein (GLP-1) inhalable diabetes treatment which is similar to a product being developed by California-based MannKind. Its product in Phase 1 clinical testing. Unlike Nektar, which partnered with Pfizer to develop Exubera, MannKind, a small startup, is developing its inhalable insulin product alone. Novo also disclosed plans to develop a longer-acting injectable form of insulin which would eliminate the need for daily injections by patients with diabetes.

In theory, inhalable insulins make sense—many people hate daily injections. That said, inhalable insulins may create other problems that obviate their usefulness as alternatives to daily insulin injections-just ask Pfizer and Nektar about that!

Until next time….

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