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!!!!!!!!!

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!!!!!!!!!

 

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!!!!!!!!

FDA Finally Issues Some Biosimilar Guidance Documents

Posted in BioEducation

The US Food and Drug Administration finally released portions of the long-awaited guidance documents that will help to implement the development and approval of biosimilar molecules under the Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act of 2009 (BPCIA)

Yesterday the agency issued three guidance documents which represent only a small portion of the total guidance package that will be necessary to develop and commercialize biosimilar products in the US

They are:

  1. Scientific Considerations in Demonstrating Biosimilarity to a Reference Product
  2. Biosimilars: Questions and Answers Regarding Implementation of the Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act of 2009
  3. Quality Considerations in Demonstrating Biosimilarity to a Reference Protein Product

For a more detailed analysis of the guidance documents please check out a post by James N. Czaban. According to Czaban (and many other in the biosimilar space) these first three guidance documents represent “baby steps” towards implementing the specifics of BPCIA. To that point, Czaban suggests that:

“These Guidances, while helpful in expressing some of the FDA’s general approaches, but will be of limited specific value with respect to any particular product”

Stay tuned for more updates.

Until next time…

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

 

Sandoz Moves Its Biosimilar Development Strategy Forward

Posted in BioEducation

Sandoz, the generics division of Novartis, is currently the world leader in the biosimilar market. In fact, if it was not for Sandoz, the biosimilar industry may never have gotten started in the first place! As some of you may know, Sandoz sued FDA (and won) to gain approval of its biosimilar human growth hormone. While FDA contends that Omnitrope is not really a biosimilar (it was approved as a “drug” rather than a biologic) most analysts agree that it was the first biosimilar product ever approved and sold in the US. 

As part of its global biosimilar strategy, Sandoz today announced that it had initiated Phase III clinical trails for US approval of biosimilar version of recombinant human granulocyte-colony stimulating factor(G-CSF) or filgrastim (Amgen’s Neupogen®) and another for global launch of PEG-filgrastim (Amgen’s Neulasta®); a PEGylated form of G-CSF.

The filgrastim study is designed to evaluate the efficacy and safety of Sandoz’s biosimilar filgrastim versus Neupogen® in breast cancer patients eligible for myelosuppressive chemotherapy treatment. These trials expected to support extension of commercialization to the US, the largest global market for biologics. The pegfilgrastim study, which is being conducted in breast cancer patients undergoing myelosuppressive chemotherapy treatment, represents the next major step in the Sandoz global biosimilar development program. Previously, Sandoz announced that it had initiated late stage clinical trials for a biosimilar version of Roche’s monoclonal antibody cancer treatment Rituxan®). Finally, Sandoz has eight to ten different biosimilar molecules at various stages of development in its pipeline.

Sandoz currently markets and sells three biosimilars: filgrastim (Zario®), somatropin (Omnitrope®) and epoetin alfa (Binocrit®) in countries across Europe and elsewhere. As mentioned above Omnitrope is also sold in the US. However, because FDA has yet to craft a regulatory approval pathway for biosimilars (despite legislation mandating their approval) it is illegal to sell biosimilars (with the exception of Omnitrope) in the US.

Once vilified and staunchly opposed by most major pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, the biosimilar business has been picking up steam in the past few years. To that end, companies like Merck, Pfizer, Teva and more recently Amgen and Biogen (all of whom lobbied against an approval pathway for biosimilars in the US) announced plans to compete on the global biosimilar market.

The decision of these companies to enter the biosimilar market is largely a result of downward pricing pressures on pharmaceutical and biotechnology drugs and near-empty drug pipelines at most major life sciences companies. Nevertheless, it is still not clear whether or not a robust biosimilar market truly exists. To wit, biosimilars have been in the market in the EU for the past fiver years and have not gained much traction there. However, the real biosimilar markets probably exist in China, Brazil and other emerging countries where there are large populations and emerging middle classes but drug prices are under tight government regulation. Because of this, the uptake of biosimilars in these markets will likely be greater than in Europe and the US.

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!!!!!!

 

Alcon Announces Plans to Expand Its Workforce In Texas

Posted in BioJobBuzz

Despite a stalling economy, there are signs that some American companies are hiring and helping to improve local economies. A good of example of this is Alcon Laboratories located in Fort Worth, Texas. The company, which specializes in vision products, today announced that it leased 87,000 sq. feet of office space to house 400 new employees that it is moving into the Fort Worth area.

The company immediately needed the space to accommodate employees relocating from Atlanta and to house new hires as the company plans to expand existing facilities in south Fort Worth. Alcon was acquired this past April by Novartis, which operate the Atlanta-based CIBA Vision and Novartis Ophthalmic Units which are being consolidated into Alcon’s existing Forth Worth operations. While some of Novartis’ Atlanta employees lost their jobs as a result of the Alcon acquisition, many of them are relocating to new jobs at the Forth Worth facility.

Alcon notified Fort Worth city officials that it plans on expanding its current workforce of 3,200 to about 4,000 and spends millions of dollars to expand existing facilities over the next few years. Ironically, while most big US pharmaceutical companies are slashing domestic jobs and investing in emerging markets like China and India, Novartis, a Swiss company, is investing in America! Go figure!!!!!!!

Until next time…

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

 

An Analysis: Big Pharma and Social Media Usage

Posted in Social Media

A study conducted in November 2011 by Cegedim Strategic Data, a market research and promotional audit firm analyzed the world’s top 100 pharmaceutical companies expenditure on traditional promotional (marketing spends) and then compared that spending with their presence on Facebook and Twitter.

Not surprisingly, Pfizer, Novartis and Merck (the world’s largest big pharma companies) finished in the top three for traditional promotional spending. However, their use of social media i.e. Twitter and Facebook varied widely. For example, Pfizer—the top promotional spender—was first in its number of Twitter followers and third in the number of likes on Facebook. On the other hand, second ranked Novartis was fifth in the number of Twitter followers and in seventeenth position for likes on Facebook. Finally, third ranked Merck was fifteenth in the number of Twitter followers (third for the number of tweets) and in the tenth position for the number of likes on Facebook (but has more pages than any of its Facebook competitors).

Other notable companies included:

  • Johnson &Johnson, eleventh in promotional spending and number two on the number of Facebook likes
  • Roche, number fifteen on the promotional spending list was ranked number two for the number of Twitter followers
  • Proctor and Gamble which ranked a distant 54th in promotional spending was number four on the Twitter follower list

What does this all mean? A whole lot of nothing because nobody can determine what effects the use of social media has on the bottom line for most pharmaceutical companies. Unlike other industries, where social media can be used to sell products, it cannot be used for direct promotional purposes in the life sciences industry. While most people will tell you this is because of the lack of guidance by FDA on the use of social media, the bottom line is that social media will never be allowed for direct-to-consumer advertising in the pharmaceutical industry. That said, pharma and biotech will have to find other uses for social media including clinical trial recruitment and retention, adverse event reporting, employee recruitment and retention and education and outreach.

Until next time…

Good Luck and Good Tweeting (and Liking)

 

Occupy Novartis?

Posted in BioBusiness

Angry with recent job cuts announced by the Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis, protesters, this past Saturday, gathered in Basel and beside the villa of its former CEO and Chairman Daniel Vasella to express their displeasure with the company’s decision to layoff workers.

In Basel, about 1,000 people gathered and demanded that Novartis reverse its decision to layoff 1,100 people who work at the company. Meanwhile, about 20 protestors gathered in a field opposite Vasella’s walled lakeside Mansion. Two of the protestors handed Vasella a “fake pink slip” and according to witnesses he laughed and took the gesture in stride.

Vasella, who is not a stranger to protests, is one of Switzerland’s highest-paid executives and in 2009 animal rights activists set fire to his Tirolean hunting lodge to protest Novartis’ use of animals to test pharmaceuticals and consumer products. 

Currently, the Occupy Wall Street movement in the US has primarily targeted banks and financial institutions. However, two weeks ago, a group of protestors in Croton, CT, staged a demonstration at Pfizer headquarters to express their anger a recent layoffs announced by the company.

Until next time…

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