It’s Layoff Season

Posted in BioBusiness

Yes–it is that time of year again–layoff season!  To that point, Amgen announced today that it was laying off an additional 1,200 jobs above the 2,900 the company announced it would layoff this past July.   Together, these layoffs represent about 20% of Amgen’s global workforce.  Amgen joins other life sciences companies including Novartis, Sanofi, Pfizer, AstraZeneca and others that have announced layoffs in 2014.

Companies like to announce layoffs in the Fall, to let employees who may be affected by the downsizing to not expect their bonuses this year (which are typically paid at years end).  While this is strictly business, it does kind of put a damper on holiday season joy.  And, because corporations are considered to be “people” –at least according to the US Supreme Court–they ought to show a little more sensitivity and compassion when announcing downsizing and layoffs before the holiday season.

Until next time…

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

The Biotechnology Job Market: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Posted in BioBusiness

Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, a Tarrytown, NY-based biotechnology company, today announced plans to add 400 new employees to its fast-growing staff upon completion of two new buildings; additional laboratories and office space.  Regeneron, founded 24 years ago, recently hit its stride after receiving regulatory approval for its first big product called Eylea —a treatment for wet age-related macular degeneration—which generated $825 million in sales revenue this past year. This past August, the company received FDA approval for Zaltrap; a colorectal cancer drug that was co-developed with Sanofi.  Finally, the company has a cholesterol-lowering monoclonal antibody drug in Phase III clinical development.  Over the past six years, the headcount at Regeneron has grown from 682 to over 2,000 and the company is still hiring!

Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS), which eight months ago purchased San Diego-based Amylin Pharmaceuticals for $5.3 billion for it diabetes drug franchise, announced today that it will close Amylin’s corporate headquarters in La Jolla at the end of next year. Employees will be given the option to transfer to other BMS locations. Those who don’t transfer will lose their jobs. At present, 420 people work at Amylin’s corporate headquarters and hundreds will likely be layed off. Before the acquisition, Amylin employed about 1,250 workers. Roughly 300 employees at an Ohio manufacturing site and about 400 sales persons have been absorbed into the BMS workforce. To date, approximately 400 Amylin employees have lost their jobs.

Three weeks ago, pharmaceutical giant Astra Zeneca announced that it was cutting 1,600 R&D jobs by 2016.  Two days later, the company announced that it would cut 2,300 additional jobs (mainly sales and administrative jobs). This brings the layoffs that the company has announced in the last 15 months to 5,050. Since 2007, the company has eliminated over 32,000 jobs.  While this may sound draconian, it is not: most of Astra Zeneca’s competitors including Merck, Pfizer, Novartis, and Bayer etc. have  layed off just as many employees during the same period.  In fact, since 2001 the pharmaceutical industry has shed well over 300,000 jobs.

Until next time…

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





Astra Zeneca Will Layoff 1,150 Sales Reps

Posted in BioJobBuzz

Last week, US unemployment dipped to 8.6%, it lowest level since 2008. Stock markets rose and everyone was buoyed by a possible economic recovery. What a difference one week can make. Today, Astra Zeneca announced that it will layoff 1,150 sales reps; a few short weeks after announcing plans to eliminate 400 jobs at is US headquarters in Wilmington, DE. The company currently employs about 61,000 workers worldwide, including 14, 000 in North America.

According to the president of Astra Zeneca US, today’s announcement is part of the larger layoff of 10, 400 employees announced back in 2010. These layoffs are largely the result of loss of patent protection for several of Astra Zeneca’s largest selling drugs including Crestor (cholesterol), Nexium (acid reflux) and Sereoquel (anti-pyschotic).  Today’s announcement brings the total of US pharmaceutical employees who lost their jobs this year to about 20,000 according to a post on the Pharmalot blog.

Tis the season, after all!

Until next time…

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


In Case You Haven't Been Paying Attention: The Indian and Chinese Life Sciences Markets Are Poised For Expansive Growth

Posted in BioBusiness

Over the past week or so there have been daily snippets on various media platforms about business deals and opportunities in the Indian and Chinese life sciences market. While it is not news that many life sciences companies are expanding operations into these markets, the growing frequency of news items about the “goings on” in both markets are noteworthy.

The first bit of news that started the Indian and Chinese life sciences news avalanche, was a note on May 29 that appeared on The Economic Times’ website that reported that New Delhi-based JB Chemical and Pharmaceuticals planned to double the size of its medical sales reps to 1,500 over the next two years to increase its penetration into rural Indian markets. The company had previously divested it over-the-counter consumer business in Russia and other Commonwealth Independent States (CIS; composed of countries from the former Soviet Union) to start up new divisions in gynecology and dental products.

The same day, another New Delhi-based drugmaker called Lupin that specializes in generic drugs, announced that it plans to launch 50 new products by FY12; twelve of which will be generic drugs launched in the US. Both bits of information suggest that new previously untapped commercial opportunities are rapidly beginning to emerge in India and that Indian drug makers are looking to compete in the US and Western European markets that were previously dominated by American, Western European and Japanese companies.

In other India-related pharmaceutical news, an article appeared on June 2 at the Online Pharma Times website that reported that Shlomo Yanai, CEO of the Israeli generic pharmaceutical giant Teva, had flown to India to discuss potential collaborations with pharmaceutical companies there. While most analysts do not think that an acquisition is likely—Teva agreed to buy US-based Cephalon in May for $6.8 billion and also paid $460 million to acquire a controlling stake in Japanese generics group Taiyo Pharmaceuticals—it signals a growing interest by foreign companies to do deals in India to establish a presence it that market.

Like the Indian market, the Chinese market is beginning to heat up. An article at published on June 1 reported that Novo Nordisk will boosts its investment in China to preserve its dominance in the diabetes market after rival Sanofi announced a new foray into the Chinese market.

According to a report issued last fall by the International Market Analysis Research and Consulting Group, the Chinese diabetes market is expected to grow from $642 million in 2009 to more that $2.8 billion in 2015. The reason for the increase is attributed to the trend of more people moving from rural areas to cities and changes in eating habits and lifestyles that are contributing to a growing Chinese obesity problem. At present the US Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta estimates that roughly 8.3 percent of the U.S. population and 6.6 percent of the global population has diabetes

Novo first entered the Chinese market about 15 years ago and in 2002 created a diabetes research center and in 2007, in association with the Chinese Academy of Sciences established a foundation to fight diabetes. This year, the company plans on expanding its insulin packaging plant in China becoming the world’s largest insulin packaging facility.

Likewise, in 2005 Sanofi created a diabetes clinic. Three years later is expanded the clinics operations, established a clinical trial center and entered into a partnership with the Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences to develop treatments for diabetes, cancer and neurological diseases.

On Jun 3, Pfizer, the world’s largest drugmaker (for now) announced that it plans to partner in a joint venture with China’s Zhejian Hisun Pharmaceutical Company to produce generic drugs for the emerging Chinese market. According to the post on

“Pfizer is looking for new sources of revenue before it loses U.S. patent protection in November for Lipitor, the cholesterol medication that was the world’s best-selling drug last year with $10.7 billion in sales. Off-patent medicines, including branded generics, are one of the fastest growing segments in the global pharmaceutical market, Pfizer and Hisun said in a joint press release.”

At present, Pfizer is the top drug company in China (by sales) followed by AstraZeneca and Sanofi according to information supplied by the prescription drug intelligence firm IMS. The size of the Chinese drug market is project to grow by 25 percent this year and rough 60% of the existing market is dominated by generic drugs.

Finally, Chinese pharmaceutical companies are also beginning to invest in the US market. Late last week, the Tianjin Tasly Pharmaceutical Group signed an agreement with the State of Maryland to invest $40 million to build a tradition Chinese medicine (TCM) facility to provide TCM training and information. According to a press release:

“Tasly Pharmaceutical is currently preparing materials for approval by America’s Food and Drug Administration and plans to sell compound danshen drip pills in US and European markets. The medicine’s primary ingredient is obtained from the salvia miltiorrhiza species and is used to treat cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases. Danshen is also known colloquially as red sage or Chinese sage.”

I think it is time to pay more attentions to the ebb and flow of the Indian and Chinese markets!

Until next time,

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting (try India and China)!!!!!!


Looking Back: The Largest Big Pharma Drug Settlements in the Past Two Years

Posted in BioBusiness

Big pharma continues to lament the increased scrutiny being imposed on it by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Like it or not, the agency’s directive is to insure that the drugs that it approves are safe and effective for the American public. And, for the most part, the agency does its job and frequently catches companies that attempt to break the rules.

To that end, an article that appeared in FiercePharma last October noted that eleven big pharma companies had paid a total of over $6.0 billion in fines to the US government over the last two years or so. The biggest losers include Eli Lilly paid over $1.4 billion in fines because of alleged illegal marketing of its anti-psychotic drug Zyprexa and Pfizer which paid $2.3 billion for marketing missteps with three drugs including Bextra (pain), Geodon (schizophrenia) , Lyrica (neuropathic pain) and Zyvox (antibiotic). 

More recently, GlaxoSmithKline agreed to pay $750 million fine in a whistle blower lawsuit that alleged that the company had sold "adulterated products" manufactured in a Cidra Puerto Rico production facility. Also, the company announced last February that it intends to pay $3.4 billion to settle lawsuits alleging the improper promotion and sale of several of its products including the blockbuster diabetes drug Avandia and Paxil (depression).

The article also included a timeline of some of the other major settlements that have recently taken place (seen below)

With: U.S. Attorney’s office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania
When: Sept. 30, 2010
Infraction: Novartis agreed to a $422.5 million settlement with the Eastern District of Pennsylvania for its off-label promotion of Trileptal and other allegations against Diovan, Exforge, Sandostatin, Tekturna and Zelnorm.

Forest Labs
With: Dept. of Justice
When: Sept. 15, 2010
Infraction: After marketing Levothroid, an unapproved thyroid drug, Forest Labs received its penalty, to the tune of $313 million. The settlement also covered Forest’s off-label use of Celexa for children’s use.

With: Dept. of Justice
When: Sept. 1, 2010
Infractions: Allergan’s $600 million Department of Justice settlement was broken into two parts: $375 million in fines and $225 million in civil penalties, all of which stemmed from its off-label use of Botox for headaches, pain management and cerebral palsy.

With: U.S. Attorney’s Office in Massachusetts
When: July 15, 2010
Infraction: The Irish drugmakers received its $203.5 million fine for its marketing tactics of Zonegran, an epilepsy drug. Also, the company’s U.S. branch pled guilty to a misdemeanor and the company will enter into a corporate integrity agreement with the HHS Inspector General.

Johnson & Johnson
With: Department of Justice
When: April 29, 2010
Infraction: Though J&J’s more infamous woes stem from its phantom recalls, two of the troubled drug maker’s subsidiaries received a $81 million penalty for off-label promotions of Topamax, an epilepsy drug.

With: U.S. Attorney’s office in Philadelphia
When: April 27, 2010
Infraction: In the same week as the J&J settlement, AstraZeneca was hit with a $520 million penalty for its antipsychotic, Seroquel. The company misled doctors and patients about the drug’s safety.

Despite concerted efforts by the US Food and Drug Agency to limit off-label promotion of prescription drugs, most pharma companies continue to see how far they can push the envelope before the agency catches up with them. Given the current budget woes facing FDA, don’t be surprised if the frequency of off label promotion and misrepresentation of prescriptions drugs continue to rise.

Until next time…

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


AstraZeneca to Freeze Salaries of Its CEO and Other Executives

Posted in BioBusiness

AstraZeneca today announced that its Chief Executive David Brennan will receive no increase to his base salary this year, as the drug maker continues a freeze for top executives imposed last year due to weak economic conditions.

Brennan’s 2010 salary will remain at $1.4 million, the same level since 2008. However, Brennan’s overall compensation has been on the rise for the past few years. His total remuneration, which includes bonus, shares and other items, rose 5% to $4.9 million for 2009, versus $4.7 million for 2008, according to documents recently filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

AstraZeneca said the base-salary freeze for 2010 also applies to other senior executives whose responsibilities are unchanged. 

While it is laudable that the company is freezing the base salary of its executives, most of their annual compensation is derived from bonuses, stock grants and options and other perks and benefits. I am certain that the hundreds of thousands of pharmaceutical employees who lost their jobs over the past three years can sleep better at night knowing that pharmaceutical executives are finally feeling the pain and sharing the pain of a down economy.

Hat tip to Ed at Pharmalot!

Until next time…

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


Astra Zeneca Jumps on the Generic Drug Bandwagon

Posted in BioBusiness

Astra Zeneca announced today that it has agreed to market 18 of Torrent Pharmaceuticals Ltd.’s branded generic drugs in 9 emerging markets, marking the U.K. drugmaker’s first generic-drug partnership.

Unlike some its competitors, Astra Zeneca is very vulnerable to generic competition as many of its best selling products such as Nexium for ulcers, the antipsychotic Seroquel and Crestor for cholesterol. are near patent expiry. Industry analysts expect the company to lose as much as 25% of its sales revenue to generic encroachment by 2014.

The company joins a growing list of big pharma companies including Pfizer, Sanofi-Aventis and GlaxoSmithKline that view generics as a viable replacement for revenues lost to generic competition for it top selling brands.

Last year, GlaxoSmithKline entered into joint ventures with the generic manufacturers Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories (India) and Aspen Pharmacare Ltd (South Africa). Also, the company paid $246.5 million for Bristol-Myers Squibb’s Pakistan and Egypt drug units and acquired UCB’s drug portfolio in Africa, the Middle East, Asia Pacific and Latin America for $702 million; clearing signaling its intention to more aggressively pursue emerging global markets.

Likewise, Sanofi-Aventis bought Zentiva NV of the Czech Republic, Helvepharm AG of Switzerland, Medley SA of Brazil and Laboratorios Kendrick SA of Mexico to bolster its branded generics portfolio. The company also took control of the Indian vaccine and biologics manufacturer Shantha Biotechnics which suggest that Sanofi may be looking to biotech in the future.

Finally, Pfizer continues its pursuit of the financially-troubled German, generics giant Ratiopharm. Actavis of Iceland and the Israeli generics manufacturer Teva have also put in bids to purchase Ratiopharm. However, there are signs that Ratiopharm’s board would prefer to be purchased by Pfizer rather than Teva or Actavis.

Look for other big pharma companies to enter into deals with or purchase branded or conventional generics manufacturers.

Until next time…

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


Pharmaceutical Industry Consolidation: A Historical Timeline that Traces Big Pharma's M &A Activity

Posted in BioJobBuzz

The old baseball adage which says that  “you can’t tell the players apart without a program” is particularly apt when it comes to tracing the M &A activity that led to the creation of some today’s largest pharmaceutical companies.

I used to be able to keep track of all of the moving parts  of most of these mergers but advancing age and unprecedented M&A activity in the pharma industry prevents me from successfully doing this any longer. To that end, about a week ago, the New York Times published a pretty cool and informative chart that historically traces the corporate mergers that lead to creation of Pfizer, Novartis, GlaxoSmithKline, Sanofi-Aventis and others.

Check it out!!!!!

Until next time…

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


Pharma and Twitter

Posted in Social Media

Twitter, the microblogging platform, is the current rage in social media. According to @Shwen, who writes the Med 2.0 Blog, it grew by 752% in 2008. Shwen is a social media enthusiast who is trying to convince the life sciences industry that Twitter and other social networks can be leveraged to improve drug development and deliver healthcare.

According to a recent post on Med. 2.0, there are currently three pharmaceutical companies that are actively using Twitter: Novartis (@novartis), Boehringer Ingelheim (@Boehringer) and Astra Zeneca (AstraZenecaUS). Also, it appears that Johnson and Johnson (@JNJcomm) launched an account last week. Tweets from @novartis and @Boehringer occur fairly regularly whereas AstraZenecaUS tweets are rare. Unlike YouTube, where pharmaceutical sponsors who create channels can regulate and control content, it is much more difficult to manage Twitter because tweets are in real time, uncensored (for the most part) and can be globally disseminated within seconds.

Despite these issues, Med 2.0’s Shwen muses “I can only imagine that more pharma companies are going to be jumping on board the Twitter-train sooner rather than later. How they use it to engage, on the other hand, is going to vary greatly from company to company. At the very least, I see companies setting up accounts as “listening posts”, but others may choose to engage, like @boehringer does in an informal manner. Whatever the case, Twitter is fast becoming the new dominant space for listening and/or engaging the life sciences community.”

Like Shwen, I believe that it a matter of time before pharma and biotech realize that they must embrace social media (in all of its various forms) to remain competitive in today’s increasingly interconnected marketplace.

For those of you who may be interested, you can follow BioJobBlog (@Biojobblog) and Biocrowd (@Biocrowd) on Twitter too!

Until next time…

Good Luck and Good Twittering


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The Weekly Pharma Layoff Report

Posted in BioJobBuzz

Talk about a rough week. First, on Monday, Pfizer announced that it was acquiring Wyeth, a move that is expected to result in the loss of 8,000 to 10,000 jobs if the deal is approved. This was followed on Wednesday by an announcement from Abbott Laboratories indicating hat it was laying off about 200 sales representatives because of regulatory delays for its12 hour-formulation of its pain drug Vicodin. Finally, on Thursday, AstraZeneca announced that it will cut another 7,400 jobs worldwide by 2013 (bringing the total number of expected layoffs to 15,000). Also on Thursday, Sepracor, the maker of the sleeping pill Lunesta, announced that it will cut 20% of its permanent work force (530 jobs) and 410 contract sales representatives (even though the company announced a profit).

Suffice it to say it has been a tough week for pharmaceutical company employees. I hope that next week is better.

Until next time…

Good Luck and errrrrr Good Job Hunting????????