Tis the Season…to Lose Your Job

Posted in BioJobBuzz

It is that time of year again….the layoff season.  Coincidentally, the end of the fiscal year frequently overlaps with the beginning of the holiday season.  This means that profits and losses for the past year have already been tabulated and new budgets have been crafted for the new fiscal year.  Not surprisingly, this is when management has the numbers and metrics it needs to determine upcoming staffing levels and whether or not layoffs are necessary.

To wit, yesterday Bristol Myers Squibb announced that it was laying off 75 workers in its R&D division to realign research priorities and cut costs. Also, Ariad said yesterday that it was reducing its US workforce  following its decision to temporarily suspend the marketing and commercial distribution of Iclusig® (ponatinib) in the U.S. Earlier this week, Novartis indicated that it would slash 500 jobs as it realigns its research efforts and attempts to control costs in both Europe and the US. And Shire announced that is was cutting 180 jobs in a UK facility. Finally, a little over a month ago, Merck announced that it would slash 8,500 R&D and marketing/sales positions worldwide.

Admittedly, getting laid off at the beginning or during the holiday season is a horrible thing. That said, since things are slowing down anyway, it gives persons who received pink slips sufficient time to beef up their resumes/CV and stash their year end bonuses into their IRA or checking account.

Tis the season….

Until next time…

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

Looking for a Job? These Pharma Companies Are “Hiring”!!!!

Posted in BioBusiness

Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology News (GEN) perused the corporate websites of 10 major pharma companies to determine the number of available jobs at those companies for the week of June 17-21, 2013.  While this was a laudable exercise, it is important to note that jobs listed on corporate websites usually do not reflect the actual job openings at the companies that post them. That said, although the results offered byGENsurvey may seem encouraging to jobseekers, I would not put much faith in the conclusions that they draw. For example, the author of the piece wrote:

The results show both the U.S.’ continuing dominance of the industry, since nine of 10 companies hired the highest numbers of employees Stateside—as well as significant hiring overseas, especially in China (which dominated Eli Lilly’s listings of available jobs) and Europe.

Anybody looking for a pharmaceutical job in theUSwill tell you that it is one of the worst job markets inUShistory and that the number of new employees being hired is negligible.  Nevertheless, it is fun to rank big pharma companies when there is nothing else to do. To that end, here is the list of big pharma companies that are “hiring”

1.  Novartis

2,740 total worldwide jobs listed on website

Top nation:U.S., with 1,096 jobs listed on website

Next five countries:Switzerland(500 jobs);Germany(224);U.K.(127);India(113);Austria(109)

2.  Roche

1,450 total worldwide jobs listed on website

Top nation:U.S., with 591 jobs listed on website

Next five countries:Switzerland(240 jobs);Germany(192);China(148);PolandandSingapore(40 each)

3.  Sanofi

1,427 total worldwide jobs listed on website

Top nation:U.S., with 744 jobs listed on website

Next five countries:China(465 jobs);France(68);Germany(51);Canada(45);U.K.(18)

4.  Pfizer

815 total worldwide jobs listed on website

Top nation:U.S., with 332 jobs listed on website

Next five countries:China(249 jobs);U.K.(26);Mexico(18);Taiwan(17);Ukraine(16)

5.  GlaxoSmithKline

733 total worldwide jobs listed on website

Top nation:U.S., with 223 jobs listed on website

Next five countries:Belgium(174 jobs);U.K.(114);Singapore(55);AustraliaandGermany(33 each)

6.  Johnson & Johnson/Janssen Pharmaceuticals

655 total worldwide jobs listed on website

Top nation:U.S., with 232 jobs listed on website

Next five countries:Belgium(81 jobs);China(63); The Netherlands (40);Mexico(30);France(26)

7.  AbbVie (formerly Abbott Labs pharmaceutical division)

555 total worldwide jobs listed on website

Top nation:U.S., with 367 jobs listed on website

Next five countries:Germany(68 jobs);China(28);France(20);U.K.(16); The Netherlands (14)

8.  AstraZeneca

544 total worldwide jobs listed on website

Top nation: U.S., with 259 jobs listed on website3

Next five countries: China(202 jobs); U.K.(55)3;France (11);Turkey (8);Sweden (7)

9.  Eli Lilly

484 total worldwide jobs listed on website

Top nation:China, with 319 jobs listed on website

Next four countries2:U.S. (146 jobs);Canada (16);Australia (2);U.K. (1) 

10.  Bristol-Myers Squibb

368 total worldwide jobs listed on website

Top nation:U.S., with 318 jobs listed on website

Next five countries: Irelandand United Kingdom(12 jobs each); France(9)1;Belgium (7);Spain (5)

A quick perusal of the list indicates that Novartis, Roche and Sanofi, arguably the best positioned and well financed of the companies have the most open jobs listed on their corporate sites.  Pfizer, the world’s largest pharma company has a paltry 815 open jobs worldwide.

The remaining 6 companies on the list have had their share of misfortunes lately, most notably Eli Lilly and AstraZeneca whose development pipelines are thin. Maybe that is why Eli Lilly is aggressively expanding its operations inChinawhere it has made substantial R&D investments.

Johnson & Johnson has been rocked by highly publicized problems with its consumer products whereas Bristol-Myers Squibb has undergone significant restructuring in its executive suite of late.

Interestingly, the top three pharma companies in the world are European not US-owned. Maybe that explains why the US life sciences job market is so bad….go figure. Also, it is important to remember that roughly 300,000 pharmaceutical employees have lost their jobs since 2001.

Until next time…

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


Bristol-Myers Squibbs Shuffles Its Senior Management Team

Posted in BioBusiness

Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) announced today that it had made major changes to its senior management team which is now headed by CEO Lamberto Andreotti.

Giovanni Caforio has been promoted to president, U.S. Pharmaceuticals. Caforio was most recently senior vice president, Oncology and Immunology Global Commercialization. In his new role, Caforio will report to Lamberto Andreotti, chief executive officer, and has been named a member of the Company’s Senior Management Team.

In addition, Charles Bancroft and Béatrice Cazala have been appointed Executive Vice Presidents of Bristol-Myers Squibb. Bancroft will add to his role of Chief Financial Officer operational responsibility for the pharmaceutical business in Latin America, Middle East, Africa, Canada, Japan and several other countries in the Pacific Rim. Cazala will add responsibility for global policy to her role leading Global Commercialization, Europe and Emerging Markets. Both will continue to report to Andreotti and serve on the Company’s Senior Management Team.

Anthony C. Hooper, senior vice president, Commercial Operations, and president, U.S., Japan and Intercontinental, has decided to leave the company. Hooper, a long time member of BMS’s senior management team was obviously not on board with Andreotti’s vision for the company’s move to become a next generation biopharma company.

Until next time…

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


Off Label Marketing by Pharmaceutical Companies was Pervasive in the early 2000s

Posted in BioBusiness

The pharmaceutical industry, not unlike all big business during the disastrous Bush Administration, was virtually unregulated. Bush and his cronies managed to accomplish this feat by destabilizing the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and essentially hamstringing any regulatory authority that it had. Not surprisingly, many pharmaceutical companies saw an opportunity to increase their bottom lines by engaging in off label marketing of many of their approved drugs—a practice clearly forbidden by the agency. 

Despite the fact that off label marketing is illegal, many big pharma companies knowingly and willfully engaged in the practice. Luckily, the Obama administration has reinvigorated and restored the regulatory powers at the agency and FDA is now aggressively investigating and punishing companies that had promoted off-label use of their products over the last decade.

The New York Times today reported that Novartis joins a growing list of pharmaceutical companies that have settled government investigations into health care fraud in the last few years, including Pfizer, which paid $2.3 billion; Eli Lilly, $1.4 billion; Allergan, $600 million; AstraZeneca, $520 million; Bristol-Myers Squibb, $515 million; and Forest Laboratories, $313 million. Pfizer, Lilly, Allergan and Forest pleaded guilty to crimes in the cases. The company was fined $422 million settle criminal and civil investigations into the marketing of the antiseizure medicine Trileptal and five other drugs. 

According to the article, the five other drugs involved in the civil settlement are Diovan, a hypertension drug that is the company’s top-selling product, at $6 billion last year; Sandostatin, a drug to treat a growth hormone disorder that had worldwide sales of $1.2 billion last year; Exforge, a hypertension drug that sold $671 million; Tekturna, a blood pressure medicine that sold $290 million; and Zelnorm, a medicine for irritable bowel syndrome and constipation that was later withdrawn from the United States market.

It is important to make a distinction between the practices of off-label drug use and off label marketing. As many of you may know, licensed US physicians are allowed to prescribe any FDA-approved drugs if they believe that their use will benefit patients. This is off-label drug use. However, in contrast, it is illegal for companies to actively promote or market approved drugs for therapeutic indications for which they have not received regulatory approval. This is off-label marketing and a strategy that has been used by companies to increase sales of approved products without having to spend money on expensive clinical trials that are required to prove safety and efficacy for a new drug to gain regulatory approval. While this may be a backdoor strategy for companies to boost product sales, it clearly puts patients at risk because the actual safety and efficacy for the indications has not been adequately tested and proven.

Many drug makers have been critical of FDA’s increase scrutiny of drug safety and have argued that it has negatively impacted the regulatory approval rates of new experimental medicines. While this may be troubling to many pharmaceutical executives, the FDA was created to insure that all approved drugs are safe and effective and the risk to Americans who use them is minimal. In other words, the agency is simply doing its job—something it was prevented from doing for the past eight years!

Until next time,

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!!!


Another One Bites the Dust: Bristol Myers Squibb to Acquire the Biotechnology Company Zymogenetics

Posted in BioBusiness

The New York Times today reported that Bristol Myers Squibb (BMS) will acquire Seattle, WA-based Zymogenetics for $885 million or $9.75 per share. The two companies were jointly developing new medicines to treat hepatitis C infections. The $9.75 a share in cash represents an 84 percent premium to Zymogenetics closing stock price on Tuesday.

BMS executives must believe that the jointly-developed hepatitis C product, PEG-interferon lambda will be a winner because the company is usually reluctant to pay such high premium prices for acquisitions. The new PEG-interferon lambda product will have to compete against similar products PEG-Intron (peginterferon alfa-2b, Merck) and Pegasys (peginterferon alfa-2b, Roche) in a highly competitive hepatitis C treatment market currently dominated by Roche. Also, several companies, most notably Vertex Pharmaceuticals, have orally-bioavailable small molecule hepatitis C treatments in late stage clinical development. All of the PEGylated interferons must be administered via injection.

BMS has a variety of marketed treatments for HIV/AIDS and hepatitis B infections. These products, along with its market leading anti-clotting agent Plavix (co-marketed with Sanofi-Aventis) are facing fierce generic competition in the not-to-distant future.

The company’s acquisition of Zymogenetics is another step towards transforming BMS from a small molecule pharmaceutical company into a biotechnology-focused drug maker. In addition to PEG-interferon lambda, Zymogenetics is developing protein-based treatments for surgical bleeding (recombinant human thrombin), metastatic melanoma (IL-21) and atopic dermatitis (IL-31 mAb). 

Zymogenetics was founded in 1981 and is one of Seattle’s largest independent, publicly-traded biotechnology companies. Stay tuned as more consolidation continues in the biotechnology sector.

Until next time….

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


Bristol-Myers Squibb Board Okays $3.0 Billion Stock Repurchase Program; Is BMS Preparing Itself for Sale?

Posted in BioBusiness

Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) announced Tuesday that its board authorized the repurchase of up to $3 billion of its common stock.

The company said the buyback program has no expiration date and will take place over the next few years. Company spokespersons said the decision reflects Bristol-Myers’ strong financial position, which included $9.8 billion in cash and marketable securities at the end of the first quarter.

While stock repurchase programs are common, BMS is steeling itself for the expected loss of substantial revenues beginning in 2011 due to patent expiry of its top selling anti-clotting medication Plavix. In the past year or so, the company has sold off a profitable medical device subsidiary (Convatec) and a consumer products company (Meade Johnson) to sure up its finances and improve stock share price. 

Long be rumored to be a takeover target, BMS has attempted to reinvent itself over the past few years as a “next generation biopharmaceutical company” through licensing agreements and acquisition of smaller biotechnology companies with promising technology platforms and near term new biotechnology products (Medarex). However, the loss of Imclone—the biotechnology company that developed the one of the top-selling colon cancer drugs called Erbitux—to rival drug maker Eli Lilly has significantly slowed the next generation initiative.

Stay tuned for all late-breaking events.

Until next time…

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


Second Acts: ImClone Founder Sam Waksal is Seeking Investors for a New Biotechnology Company

Posted in BioBusiness

As many of you may recall, in 2001, Sam Waksal, founder and former CEO of the biotechnology company ImClone was convicted (along with his good friend Martha Stewart) for fraud and insider trading of ImClone stock. Waksal, who was released from prison in late 2008 and lived in a half way house for several months had kept a relatively low profile until earlier this month. Rumor has it that Sam along with Richard Mulligan, PhD a Harvard professor and former ImClone director and Dr. Larry Witte, a current executive vice president in the ImClone division of Eli Lilly are attempting raise about $50 million for the privately-held new venture called Kadmon. Other reports indicate that Waksal and other members of the Kadmon team are putting up $50 million as well. 

According to insider reports the company will ostensibly focus on cancer and infectious disease targets and—taking a page out of the Cubist, Celgene and Sepracor play books—re-purpose once promising drug candidates discarded by other companies. To that end, according an article in TheStreet, the company’s drug research programs include a "statin inhibitor for influenza" from a "leading Ivy League university" along with a variety of monoclonal antibodies for use as targeted cancer treatments, similar to Erbitux. Kadmon is also eyeing several existing cancer-focused drug companies, one of which already has a marketed product, as acquisition targets, according to the prospectus. For those of you who may be wondering about whether or not Waksal can legally start another biotechnology company, an agreement with the Securities and Exchange Commission bars Waksal from serving as an officer in a publicly traded company, but as previously mentioned, Kadmon is a private venture.

Whether you like Waksal or not, his track record in the biotechnology industry speaks for itself. Unlike the vast majority of his rivals, Waksal shepherded a molecule from discovery through commercialization. That molecule, a monoclonal antibody called Erbitux, became a multibillion dollar a year treatment for certain forms of colorectal cancer. More importantly, Waksal was one of the first to recognize that humanized monoclonal antibodies directed against certain cellular receptors could be used to treat a variety of oncology indications—a concept that is driving a large portion of discovery and product development in the oncology space. For those of you who may not know, Eli Lilly purchased ImClone two years ago for $7.0 billion dollars after a very public and acrimonious fight over the sale price of ImClone erupted between Carl Icahn, ImClone’s Chairman, and Jim Cornelius, CEO of Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS). ImClone and BMS co-marketed Eribitux prior to the sale.

Waksal has been in and around the biotechnology industry for over 30 years and many consider him to be one of the early industry pioneers. Unfortunately, despite his dubious past, Waksal represents a dying breed of visionaries whose entrepreneurial spirit and unorthodox approach to new drug development is largely responsible the biotechnology industry’s current largess. Like other ex-felons Waksal did his time and like all Americans he is entitled to a second chance.

Let’s hope that Sam learned a few things during his incarceration and is smarter and wiser for his second and possibly final act. I wish Waksal success in his new venture and I hope that he and his team still possess the insight, creativity and tenacity required to discover and develop innovative oncology and infectious diseases drugs.

Until next time….

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


Expect More Uneasiness at Pharma Companies This Week

Posted in BioJobBuzz

In the wake of last week’s Pfizer-Wyeth M&A feeding frenzy, I suspect that most analysts were hoping that this week would be a little quieter. Unfortunately for many pharmaceutical company employees, this week may be shaping up to be almost as nerve-wracking as last week!and declared that it was on the hunt for a merger or acquisition partner. A ll of the usual suspects have been cited as possibilities. They include: Bristol Myers Squibb (Plavix, Erbitux, Orencia Abilify) , Amgen (EPO, Aranesp, Neupogen, Neulasta and Enbrel), Biogen-Idec (Avonex, Tsyabri and Rituxan) (Actavis (generics) Ratiopharm (generics) and Crucell (vaccines). The hands on favorite and most likely target would be Bristol Myers Squibb because the two companies co-market Plavix, their top selling drug that is due to lose patent protection in the next year or so. That said, in this environment anything can happen. 


In other news, GlaxoSmithKline announced that it will be cutting 6,000 jobs later this week when the company puts out financial results. The company began reorganizing itself in 2007 and will continue to do over the next few years to deal with generic encroachment on several of its top selling drugs. Glaxo employs about 100,000 people worldwide. Analysts suspect that many of the job cuts will occur in the UK and that sales rep may be hit the hardest in this latest round of layoffs.

Until next time…

 Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!!!!




Bristol-Myers Squibb Announces $2.5 Billion in Cuts and Layoffs

Posted in BioJobBuzz

Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) made a presentation this morning at the Credit Suisse Healthcare Conference that showed the company plans on saving an additional $2.5 billion in “productivity initiatives.” According to its new CFO, the company plans to squeeze the savings out of “headcount and related costs” — which  likely means more downsizing and layoffs.  Rumors have it that these job cuts will take place by December 1, 2008 just prior to when employee bonuses are traditionally decided.

To make matters worse, the Pharmalot blog reported today  that "the drugmaker earlier this week sent a voicemail to employees saying a 2 percent cost of living increase will be given this year to those who are meeting or exceeding performance standards."  The announcement has lead to speculation among BMS employees whether or not the same ceiling will be applied to the bonuses and stock rewards handed to Bristol-Myers CEO Jim Cornelius and members of his executive team.

Heavy losses incurred  by its former CFO who "bet the store" on mortgage-backed securities coupled with the recent, highly publicized failure of Jim Cornelius to purchase ImClone (to gain complete control over the multi-billion dollar Erbitux franchise) suggests that the future of the company may be in serious jeopardy.

Until next time…

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


Impending Layoffs at Pfizer and Bristol-Myers Squibb

Posted in BioJobBuzz

The Pharmalot blog reported today that Pfizer will likely layoff large numbers of R&D personnel over the next few weeks and months. This should not come as a surprise to Pfizer employees because the company recently announced that it would eliminate research in certain therapeutic areas including heart disease and obesity as part of a global reorganization plan. According to the company, the reorganization is expected to be completed by year’s end and operational in 2009. Inside sources say that the job losses should be significant and far reaching.

In other news, BioJobBlog learned today that Bristol Myers Squibb plans to announce company-wide layoffs by December 1, 2008. As previously reported by BioJobBlog, BMS has been quietly downsizing since last spring because of the impending patent expiry (in 2011) of its blockbuster anticlotting drug Plavix. BMS, unlike Pfizer, has been extremely circumspect about its impending layoffs which is causing a great deal of anxiety among its employees. The recent sale of ImClone, BMS’s partner for the cancer drug Erbitux, to Eli Lilly will undoubtedly contribute to additional layoffs at BMS in the future. Currently, Erbitux is BMS’s top selling biopharmaceutical product.

It goes without saying that it is not a good time to be a pharma employee. Unfortunately, as the old adage goes “things are likely to get worse before they get better”. 

Until next time…

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