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


Even Generics Companies Are Not Immune: Teva to Slash 5,000 Jobs!

Posted in BioBusiness, BioJobBuzz

Despite the fact that over 80% of the drugs sold in the US are now generic, Teva, the world’s largest generic drug manufacture (based in Israel) announced yesterday that it will eliminate 5,000 jobs (about 10% of its global workforce) by the end of 2014. According to the company, this action is part of Teva’s worldwide restructuring plan which was introduced in December 2012.

While Teva is generally known as a generic drug manufacturer, it does generate a substantial part of its sales revenue for a branded injectable multiple sclerosis drug called Copaxone lost patent protection.  According to a post at the Pharmalot Blog

The move comes less than three months after a US court invalidated the 2015 patent on its Copaxone multiple sclerosis drug. The decision means patent protection for the drug, which generates about half of company earnings and dominates the MS market, may prevent rivals from selling lower-cost versions of the injectable drug only until next year.

In recent years, Teva has made major investments into biosimilar drugs and presently has two approved product –( Lonquex (XM22 lipegfilgrastim) and Tevagrastim (filigrastim)–on the market.  At present, while Congress passed legislation to allow biosimilars to be approved and sold in the US, the Food and Drug Administration has been extremely slow in translating the legislation into a functional and understandable legal regulatory pathway for approval of biosimilars.

Look for job cuts in the pharmaceutical industry (Lilly ?) in the next few months as we are entering prime layoff announcement season.

Until next time…

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


The Other Shoe Has Finally Dropped: Merck to Eliminate 8,500 Jobs

Posted in BioBusiness, BioJobBuzz

After Merck rehired Roger Perlmutter to replace Peter Kim as head of R&D (he left Merck about 10 years ago to lead Amgen R&D), it was pretty obvious that reorganization and job cuts were likely. However, it was not clear, until today, how extensive the cuts would be and what exactly what would be changing at Merck.

Today, Merck revealed plans to eliminate about 8,500 jobs–mainly in R&D, marketing and sales–in an attempt to save $2.5 billion by the end of 2015. In addition to the job cuts, R&D focus will be shifting and Merck’s headquarters will be relocated again (it was moved from Whitehouse Station to Summit several years ago) to Kenilworth, NJ (the former headquarters of Schering Plough which Merck purchased for roughly $41 billion in 2009)

According to a post at the Pharmalot Blog, while it is not exactly clear where the job cuts will take place, most industry insiders expect that the majority of them will likely take place in NJ.  The shift in R&D focus is intended to emphasize oncology, diabetes, acute hospital care, vaccines, oncology and a greater effort in biologics. Further the company intends to either license or discontinue research on “selected late-stage compounds” and reduce its investment in “platform technologies.”

Once one of America’s preeminent pharmaceutical companies, Merck has stumbled over the past decade (with the Vioxx scandal and the Vytorin and Zetia controversies) and it continues to struggle with regulatory approval of some of its new medicines. Perlmutter was hired to transform R&D and bring his expertise in oncology to bear at Merck.

Time will tell.

Until next time…

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!!!!

Here We Go Again: AstraZeneca to Cut 1,600 Jobs

Posted in BioBusiness

Just when many pharmaceutical employees’ anxiety about  job security was beginning to wane and things appeared to returning to “normal”, yesterday AstraZeneca (AZ) announced that it was slashing another 1,600 jobs.  While this was not unexpected, these new cuts add to the massive number of pharmaceutical employees who have lost their jobs over the past five years.

According to a press release, the cuts will help AZ to save roughly $190 million per year through 2016.  Most of the lost jobs will come from restructuring of AZ’s R& D operations in the UK, Sweden and the US.  To that end, all R&D activity will stop at AZ’s Alderley Park facility in Northwest England, the former hub of the company’s R&D activities.  Az’s MedImmune subsidiary in Gaithersburg, MD will be the main center for biotech drug R&D while AZ’s research center in MoeIndal Sweden will focus on small molecule discovery and development.

AZ’s new CEO Pascal Soriot said the reorganization and restructuring were necessary to better focus the company’s R&D efforts in the key therapy areas that include cancer, cardiovascular and metabolic disorders and respiratory and inflammatory diseases. The company will reduce its efforts in the areas of neuroscience and antiinfectives.

Interestingly, many of the job cuts were made so that the company can build a new $500 million all purpose facility in Cambridge, England to leverage the R&D and clinical talent in that part of Britain.  The new facility is expected to be built by 2016.  Looking on the bright side, many of the employees who just lost their jobs, can find new ones three years from now!

AstraZeneca has already reduced its global workforce by around 10,000 as it has struggled to cope with generic competition and disappointing progress in finding new drugs. It now employs a total of 51,700 around the world.

Don’t be surprised if other big pharma companies announce new job cuts in 2013.

Until next time…

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!!!!

Occupy Wall Street Protest Targets Pharmaceutical Giant Pfizer

Posted in BioBusiness

The Pharmalot Blog today reported that a group of protesters aligned with the Occupy Wall Street movement will conduct a vigil at Pfizer’s Groton,CT R&D facility to protests recent job cuts made by the company. 

Pfizer was targeted because it took tens of millions of dollars in local and state government subsidies to build an R&D facility in New London, Connecticut. But earlier this year, the company abandoned the facility and decided to transfer about 1,100 R&D job from Groton to Cambridge, Massachusetts.Also, the company jettisoned its antibacterial drug discovery efforts at the Groton facility and shipped those jobs overseas to China.  Roughly, 2,500 Pfizer jobs are leaving Connecticut which will likely have a negative impact on the state.

One protest leader quipped “When huge companies like Pfizer take tens or hundreds of millions of dollars in public money, and then pull up stakes as soon as the money disappears, that’s what wrong with our economy”

Also, Pfizer is one of the top US ten companies to shed employees despite an estimated $48.2 billion in offshore funds that the company does not pay any taxes on. Between 2004 and 2011, the company  laid off  58,071.

Don’t be surprised if the Occupy Wall Street Movement spreads from the banking to the pharmaceutical industry.  At this point there appears to be little distinction between the two!

Until next time…

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting

Okay, Maybe Big Pharma Layoffs Are Not Over: AstraZeneca to Eliminate 400 US Jobs

Posted in BioJobBuzz

Astra Zeneca today announced that it will eliminate 400 positions at the company’s Wilmington, DE headquarters. Most of the cuts will be in sales and marketing and the downsizing is intended “streamline portions of its commercial business to best serve patients in the US.”

According to a press release, about 70 of the estimated 400 job cuts will come from existing unfilled vacancies. Also, employees will have the option to choose to potentially leave the company with a possible package. All decisions will be finalized by early December.

Like many of its competitors, AstraZeneca is facing fierce competition from generic manufacturers and downward pricing pressures. The company currently employs 61,000 persons worldwide including 14,000 in North America.

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!!!!!


Post Labor Day Job Cut Report

Posted in BioJobBuzz

Despite the fact that no new jobs were added to the US economy in August, things were pretty quiet in the pharmaceutical layoff space. From what I was able to find, it appears that Alcon Laboratories will be moving about 100 jobs from Atlanta to Fort Worth Texas (I was recently in Fort Worth for the first time and I extend my sympathies to those Atlantans that may make the move). The consolidation is taking place because Novartis purchased Alcon in April and after acquisitions these sorts of things happen. Nestle, another Swiss company, had a majority ownership in Alcon. 

Interestingly, there appears to be some consolidation also taking place in the contract manufacturing space. Contract Pharma announced that it would close its Buffalo, NY manufacturing facility (purchased from Bristol Myers Squibb in 2005) and eliminate 128 jobs. Those employees who do not lose their jobs may have an opportunity to work in a nearby Ontario, Canada site. Likewise, UK-based United Drug, another CMO, will cut 150 jobs because of government-led regulatory decision to reduce health spending.

While none of these announcements were particularly noteworthy, Sanofi-Aventis’ announcement today that it will cut $2.9 billion in costs over the next few years was somewhat shocking but not unexpected. Most of the cuts will be in R&D and there will undoubtedly be massive downsizing and reorganization. 

According to a post on today’s Pharmalot blog “a presentation indicates that research and development costs are in the process of being cut by 12 percent from 2008 to about $1.1 billion, excluding Genzyme. And the total headcount over this same period is being reduced by about 22 percent, from roughly 13,000 positions to about 10,000 jobs by the end of this year, again excluding Genzyme.”

Today’s announcement of cut back is consistent with Sanofi’s business strategy over the past year or so which included plant closings and large sales rep layoffs Again, the Pharmalot blog reported “The upcoming round involves slashing about $700 million in expenses from Genzyme, the biotech that Sanofi purchased recently, as oncology units in the Boston area are combined.”

The cost cutting measures are in response to the impending loss of patent exclusivity for several of its blockbuster products most notably Plavix and unexpected attrition in the company’s late stage clinical development portfolio. This year sales of products facing patent expiry are expected to decline to $4.2 billion as compared with $10.6 billion in 2008. To cope with these difficulties, Sanofi has gone on a buying spree over the last couple of years spending $23 billion to acquire various companies with Genzyme being the crown jewel.

Meanwhile, Sanofi plans to file for approval of six new drugs this year and hopes that it can introduce 19 new drugs by 2015. I suspect that Sanofi’s aggressive M&A strategy may help the company reach that goal. That said, if I was a Sanofi or Genzyme employee, I would be dusting off the old resume right about now.

Until next time…

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!!!! 

The Job Cuts Keep On Coming at Big Pharma Companies

Posted in BioJobBuzz

The French drug maker Sanofi-Aventis continues to reorganize and slash jobs in anticipation of its acquisition of Genzyme. Today the company disclosed that it would shed another 700 jobs from its European operations. The job cuts come amid the company’s reorganization of its units in Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Portugal Spain, Holland, the Czech Republic and the United Kingdom (basically the entire EU).  The goal is to consolidate and reorganize the 30 European subsidiaries into only 10.

In other news, the Japanese drug maker Eisai announced that it plans on cutting 600 jobs or 20 percent of its US workforce. This announcement comes only one week after the company disclosed that it would trim 900 jobs in the next five years from European and Japanese operations. Impending generic competition for Eisai blockbuster treatment for Alzheimer’s disease, Aricept, is largely responsible for the layoffs. Like most other big pharmaceutical companies there aren’t enough drugs in development pipelines to offset the loss of revenue from generic encroachment on blockbuster brands.

Until next time…

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


Pfizer Update: A New CEO, A Shrinking R&D Budget and 3500 Fewer Employees

Posted in BioJobBuzz

Many industry insiders and financial analysts were pleased when former Pfizer CEO Jeffrey Kindler abruptly departed the company last December. Most felt that the company had grown too large after three mega-mergers and acquisitions (Warner Lambert, Pharmacia and most recently Wyeth) in the past decade or so. Pfizer bought Wyeth in late 2009 for $67 billion with the hope that it bolster the company’s drug development pipeline and replace vanishing Lipitor revenue (the move has not paid off which may explain Kindler unexpected departure).

Further, Pfizer’s best selling (and world leading) cholesterol-lowering drug Lipitor is due to lose patent protection in 2012. Lipitor had $10.7 billion in sales last year. This, along with the loss of patent protection for Viagra and a few other Pfizer prescription drugs, presumably left new CEO Ian Read, little choice but to slash R&D spending by close to $2 billion. Consequently, the company today announced it would close its research facility in Sandwich, England (which developed Viagra) and eliminate most of its 2,400 employees. An additional 1,000 employees at its research center in Groton, CT will either be offered transfers to its Cambridge, MA facility or layed off.

The elimination of 3500 Pfizer R&D employees begs the question “who will do the research to discover new drugs?” Not surprisingly, Pfizer’s answer is to outsource the work to Contract Research Organizations like Covance, Charles Rivers Laboratories and Parexel International Corp. Interestingly, much of this work is conducted by scientists who work outside of the US. And, if this down sizing trend continues how will the US ever get its unemployment rate below 10 percent?

Pfizer, like most other major US pharmaceutical companies, is no stranger to massive downsizing. The company alone has layed off over 19,000 employees over the past three years. And, unlike contractions in the life sciences industry in the past, I highly doubt that many of these R&D positions will be reinstated in the future. With this in mind, I highly recommend that those of you who were considering industrial R&D careers have a plan B or possibly a plan C to fall back on.

Until next time…

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