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!!!!!!!!!!!

 

 

 

 

New Report: High Job Anxiety Amongst Pharmaceutical Employees

Posted in BioEducation

A post today on the fabulous Pharmalot Blog revealed that a recent poll conducted by Pharma IQ showed that about 44 percent of all pharmaceutical employee respondents worry that they may become redundant (corporate speak for dispensable) over the next year or so. Further, 50 percent believe that staffing levels will remain the same for 2012 whereas 32 percent expect more layoffs to occur. Only 19 percent of the 535 pharma employees surveyed believe that hiring will increase this year.

Roughly 48 percent of respondents indicated that their groups/departments had not been downsized. However, 61% of respondents—who indicated that downsizing had taken place in their department— reported that their job functions were being performed by fewer numbers of employees. Twenty-five percent report that the job functions performed by layed off employees were outsourced. Of those, 10 percent said that the jobs were outsourced to emerging markets like China, India, and Brazil etc.

Interestingly, a whopping 71 percent believe that the massive layoffs that have taken place in pharma are a result of the recession. While this is what big pharma wants its layed off employees to believe, the bottom line is that the pharma industry began shedding jobs in 2001 mainly because of anticipated lost of patent expiry for many of its blockbusters and the lack of new molecular entities discovered by internal R&D programs not because of cash flow problems. To wit, a quick perusal of cash reserves indicates that most major pharmaceutical companies have roughly $5 to 35 billion in short term cash reserves. Simply put, the recession conveniently provided pharma execs with a legitimate excuse to downsize.

To be fair, big pharma companies will be losing substantial revenue streams because of loss of patent protection for blockbusters like Lipitor, Zyprexa, and Plavix etc. And, that some belt tightening may be in order to remain competitive. However, most pharma execs realized way back in the mid 2000s that they could no longer justify such large workforces in the wake of thinning pipelines and a much lower than expect ROI from internal R&D activities. Consequently, they had to layoff large numbers of R&D and sales employees to keep their stock prices stable and in some cases to retain their jobs. The fact that a majority of the current pharma employees surveyed believe that the massive pharma layoffs that have taken place over the last decade are a result of the recession suggests that these employees are still drinking the Kool-Aid freely offered by their employers.

There are a lot of other interesting statistics and tidbits in the report that may be worth a look. However, it is important to note, that it is highly unlikely that pharma will ever replace many of the US and European employees who lost their jobs. Recent moves made by most major pharmaceutical companies clearly indicate that they are betting on their growth in both R&D and sales to take place in emerging markets. Sadly, the future of the US life sciences workforce is no longer bright. In fact, it is quite dim!

Until next time…

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

 

Job Search Strategies for the Unemployed

Posted in BioEducation

Many people lost their jobs during the recession for reasons that were unrelated to personal skills and performance. Nevertheless, many hiring managers cling to the wrong-headed notion that long term unemployed persons are unemployed or layed off because they were less than adequate or under performers in their previous positions. Therefore, it is important for unemployed persons to pursue strategies that ensure that they remain strong job candidates for prospective new employers.

An article by Eilene Zimmerman entitled “Out of Work but Staying a Strong Candidate” offers some good advice for the unemployed. First, unemployed persons may have to reconsider the way in which they network to look for new job opportunities. To that point, people in your old network may feel guilty that they are employed and you don’t have a job. Because of this, they may feel sorry for your or see you as injured or defeated and possibly avoid interacting with you or including you at industry events. To obviate this, it is a good idea when networking with them to offer an article or blog post that may be temporal and relevant to your industry or mentioning a professional opportunity that they may not know about. Also, it is a good idea to stay abreast of important and current things happening in your industry (or an industry that you are interested in breaking into). This shows people that you are still engaged and interested in other professional opportunities that may exist. Finally, maintain your membership in professional societies (even though you may not be flush with cash) and consider volunteering on committees in these organizations. This shows other industry professionals that you are active and engaged. Also, professional association members frequently hear about or learn of unadvertised jobs or career opportunities within an industry.

There is no question that losing your job can be devastating and emotionally distressing. However, just because you are unemployed, it doesn’t mean that your standing or stature in your industry needs to be negatively impacted. To that end, keep your certifications, professional credentials and licenses up to date and participate in other activities that make use of your professional skills. Finding part-time or contract work in your industry is also a plus as is volunteering or doing unpaid work for charitable organizations.

Another popular strategy is to start your own consulting firm. While your previous employer may have layed you off to cut costs, it does not mean that they will not considering hiring you as a consultant (they don’t have to pay benefits, bonuses or contribute to a 401K and can write off your services as 1099 work). Landing one or two small gigs may be able to tide you over until you find a new fulltime position.

Most unemployed people are rightly-concerned about the employment gap that will appear on their CV or resume. Unfortunately, there is no real way to hide it! One way to manage an employment gap is to add a Summary of Qualifications or Profile section to your resume. This section can be placed at the beginning of the resume (underneath your name and contact information) and should be crafted to extol your skills and qualifications for individual jobs. This means that every time you apply for a new position, the Summary of Qualifications section must be tailored and optimized to show prospective employers why you and not the other 1,000 applicants ought to be considered for the job. Also, as suggested in Ms Zimmerman’s article, you can change the title of the section “work experience” to “experience” and describe any contract, part-time or volunteer work (which was unpaid) using the same language; which focused on your results, strategies used to get there and your contributions to the organization during your tenure.

Finally, and perhaps most important, unemployed persons must learn to deal with and come to terms about unemployment history during job interviews. Nobody likes admitting that they were fired or layed off but, as a rule of thumb, it is best to be as honest (as possible) because most industries and networks are small and job candidates who are less than truthful almost always get caught! For example, if you were part of a large layoff at your previous employer, then it is a good idea to explain the circumstances to the interviewer and also indicate that you were not layed off for performance reasons. Further, it is not a good idea to apply for or interview for any job that may be available at a particular company or organization. If you are overqualified or not the right fit for a job, many employers will not even consider you for the job because they fear that you will leave as soon as something more appropriate comes along. That said, it is important to only apply for jobs within your industry that represent a good fit with your skill sets and experience. If that fails to yield positive results, then you may want to consider a different industry; but recognize that you may need additional training to acquire the skills or experience even to be considered for entry level positions in that industry!

Until next time…

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

 

GlaxoSmithKline Will Reorganize Its R&D Operations To Cut Costs

Posted in BioEducation

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) today announced that it will reconfigure its R&D operations to cut operating costs. Interestingly, the company hopes to reorganize and not lay off any of its employees—yeah right!

According to a press release, a small number of employees will be affected at Research Triangle Park, NC GSK’s US base of operations, although a spokesperson refused to be more specific. Further, those affected workers are expected to remain in R&D but in different capacities.

For all of 2011, GSK generated $44.09 billion in sales and net income of $8.14 billion. However, fourth quarter revenues dropped 2 percent to $11.24 billion.

It seems like there is announcement like this every day from a big pharmaceutical company. It is no longer a secret that investing in R&D has not provided many big pharma companies with their expected return on investment. Consequently, there have been massive layoffs in R&D at every major pharmaceutical company over the past five years. This strategy is seemingly paradoxical; to wit, how can companies that have to regularly discover and commercialize new molecular entities remain in business if they continue to shed the employees who are responsible for making the discoveries? Sadly, big pharma’s strategy to remedy the paradox is to outsource R&D, establish R&D centers in emerging markets where wages and operational costs are much lower than in the US and other part of the developed world and to look at purchasing companies that have new drugs in late stage preclinical or clinical development.

Until next time…

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

 

AstraZeneca Sheds 7,300 Jobs

Posted in BioEducation

After announcing its quarterly earnings and a 24 percent increase in 2011 profits, AstraZeneca (AZ) today made public its decision to eliminate another 7,300 jobs. Earlier this week there was speculation that job cuts were likely but the exact numbers were not disclosed. 

The reasons given for the layoffs despite increased annual profits? Government spending cuts for healthcare and stiff generic competition for several of its blockbuster drugs including Seroquel XR (depression), Atacand (hypertension) Crestor (cholesterol-lowering) and Symbicort (asthma); all of which have lost or will be losing patent protection in the near future. According to a company press release generic competition cut revenues by $2.0 billion in 2011 whereas government price interventions cost the company another $1.0 billion. The announced job cuts are expected to save AZ $1.6 billion by 2014—great news for shareholders but not so much for the employees who are losing their jobs!

Most of the cuts will take place in R&D. To that end, the company will close its facility in Montreal and layoff staff at its Soedertaelje site in Sweden. Interestingly, the company plans on focusing more on neuroscience and intends to hire 40 to 50 scientists in its new Innovative Medicine unit which is partly based in Boston, MA and Cambridge in England.

While layoffs at AZ were expected, the size of the current layoff does not bode well for other pharmaceutical employees. It is becoming increasingly clear that big pharma companies are getting out of R&D and focusing their efforts on M&A and licensing deals to fill their thinning pipelines. Also, while shedding R&D and sales jobs in developed markets, big pharma companies are investing heavily in building facilities and hiring thousands of R&D and sales personnel in emerging markets. From my perspective, it appears that big pharma has consciously decided to abandon developed Western markets where sales growth is in the single digits in favor of emerging ones where double digit growth is expected for the next decade.

Until next time…

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

 

Monthly Pharma Layoff Report

Posted in BioEducation

Thing have been quiet in the pharma layoff space during 2012. I guess that is not so surprising since we are only one month into 2012. However, there was a post on yesterday’s Pharmalot blog which indicates pharma layoffs may resume in earnest over the next few weeks. 

According to the post, AstraZeneca (AZ) is poised to shed thousands of more jobs after the company announces it earnings later this week. As you may recall, AZ recently announced that it would lay off 400 employees at its US headquarters and eliminate another 1,150 jobs from its US sales force. Like other pharmaceutical companies, things have been tough for AZ as three of its blockbuster products Crestor (cholesterol lowering), Nexium (acid reflux) and Seroquel (antipsychotic) lose patent protection and face stiff generic competition.

The Pharmalot post also reported that:

“Between 2007 and 2009, AstraZeneca eliminated 12,600 positions, a move that saved $1.6 billion annually, although that figure rose to $2.4 billion by 2010. The cuts announced that year were designed to save $1.9 billion annually by 2014 It is not clear how much the drug maker hopes to save with still more cuts, but some $3 billion may be spent on a stock buyback to bolster shareholder confidence.”

It is important to note that the massive downsizing that has taken place in the pharma industry over the past decade has little to do with the recession and everything to do with the loss of blockbuster revenues due to generic encroachment. Put simply, most pharma companies grew too large too quickly and subsequently realized that could not sustain their vast infrastructures if the loss of blockbuster sales revenues could not be replaced by new products. To wit, if you look at the P&L statements of many pharmaceutical companies, most have $5 billon to $30 billion of readily-available cash reserves on hand to “play” with. Sadly, the downsizing that has taken place had little to do with the present and everything to do about the future profitability of big pharma companies.

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!!!!

 

Asian Pharmaceutical Giant Takeda To Eliminate 2,800 Jobs in the US and Europe

Posted in BioEducation

Asia’s largest drug maker, Takeda, today announced that it will eliminate 2,800 jobs or about 9% of its workforce in the US and Europe. The job cuts, planned over the next four years, are intended to better integrate NycoMed, the Swiss company purchased by Takeda for $12 billion last September.

Most of the positions affected by the downsizing are in the US and Europe and will help the company save $1.7 billion over the next year or so.The plan includes the elimination of 2,100 jobs mainly in Europe and 700 in the U.S. across research, commercial, operations and administrative functions. Takeda currently has about 30,000 employees worldwide with operations in 42 countries.

The reason for the downsizing is slumping US sales of the company’s top selling drug Actos (diabetes) that will lose patent protection this August and face stiff generic competition. Like other pharmaceutical companies, Takeda is abandoning the US and European markets in favor emerging markets in China, India, Brazil and the Middle East.

Until next time…

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

 

Oops…Novartis Does It Again!

Posted in BioEducation

Earlier this week, I suggested in a post that pharma layoffs were beginning to decline whereas biotech layoffs were rising. And wouldn’t you know it, just when big pharma employees thought that their jobs were safe, the Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis today announced that it was laying off 2,000 US employees. According to a post on the Pharmalot blog, 1,630 sales reps and an additional 300 positions will be eliminated at Novartis’ Hanover, NJ US headquarters. Last fall, Novartis eliminated 1,100 jobs in Switzerland, 900 R&D and 1,400 sales reps in The US and another 550 jobs at a manufacturing site in the UK 

While the announced layoffs may be part of a global downsizing effort that began last year, many analysts believe Novartis decided to reorganize because its new hypertension drug, Tekturna, performed poorly in clinical trials (increased incidence of non-fatal stroke, renal complications, hyperkalemia and hypotension) to garner approval of the drug to treat patients with Type II diabetes who are a greater risk of cardiovascular and renal events. The company’s best-selling hypertension medicine Diovan lost patent protection in Europe earlier this year and it due to expire in the US next September.

Company executives were betting on Tekturna to replace hypertension sales lost to generic competition for Diovan. Tekturna, approved in Europe as Rasilez, generated sales of $449 million during the first nine months of the past fiscal year but the poor clinical trials results suggest that it may be difficult for the drug to generate the $1.4 billion in annual sales (by 2016) forecasted by many financial analysts.

Stay tuned for more big pharma layoff updates!

Until next time…

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

 

Canada Continues to Shed Biotech Jobs

Posted in BioEducation

Yesterday I reported that Cangene, one of Canada’s oldest and largest biotechnology companies was reorganizing and laying off 120 employees. Today, the French drug maker Sanofi-Aventis announced that it would eliminate 100 jobs at its Montreal area (Laval) facility to allow for better integration of Genzyme, the Massachusetts-based biotechnology company that was acquired last year for more than $20 billion. About 1,700 employees work for Sanofi’s Canadian division.

Today’s layoff news comes only day after Johnson & Johnson announced that it would close its Montreal research center and layoff 126 employees. This is bad news for Montreal which emerged as one of Canada’s hot pharmaceutical and biotechnology zone in the early 2000s. 

The Canadian biotechnology sector is much smaller than its US counterpart but there are several high profile companies that have been able to establish themselves as players in the global biotechnology industry. Hopefully, these companies will be able to weather to the economically-challenging times that are currently plaguing the Canadian biotechnology industry.

Until next time…

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