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!!!!!!!!


Bureaucratic Shakeup and More Layoffs at Merck?

Posted in BioBusiness

The Twitterverse was buzzing with activity late last week about a possible shakeup at Merck as Roger Perlmutter takes control as its new head of R&D.  As many of you may know, Perlmutter used to work at Merck but left to become Amgen’s Executive VP of R&D when Peter Kim, the now former Head of Merck’s R&D, was hired several years

Kim’s tenure at Merck was rife with missteps, misdirection and drug approval failures. So, when Amgen replaced its CEO and Merck fired Kim, Perlmutter saw an opportunity to return to the fold with Merck now under the tutelage of CEO Ken Frazier (the man who engineered the company’s Vioxx legal strategy).

Fierce Biotech substantiated the Twitter rumors that a major shakeup may be underway at Merck. According to an article published early on Friday, a Merck spokesperson confirmed that Perlmutter is indeed shaking things up and reorganizing Merck’s R&D infrastructure.

The spokesperson said

“I can confirm that some members of management, but not all Franchise leadership, are leaving the company but are working to ensure a smooth transition.”

The departure of several senior leaders was later confirmed by the Wall Street Journal.  While not confirmed, rumors suggested that Rupert Vessey will lead Merck’s Discovery and Early Development programs.

While Merck spends close to $8 billion annually on R&D, its late stage development pipeline is thin and Perlmutter was hired to strengthen it. Changes at the top usually mean that other changes will take place among the rank and file. That said, stay tuned for possible additional layoffs among Merck R&D personnel.

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!!!!!

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!!!!


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!!!!!!!


Amgen Hires Tony Hooper and Lays off Nearly 400 Employees

Posted in BioJobBuzz

Last week Amgen announced that it was reorganizing its R&D structure and that layoffs were likely. Today, the company announced that it had hired Tony Hooper, very recently the former senior vice president, Commercial Operations, and president, U.S., Japan and Intercontinental at Bristol Myers Squibb (BMS) to overhaul commercial operations. Shortly after the Hooper announcement almost 400 Amgen employees learned that they would lose their jobs.

Hooper will replace Jim Daly as executive vice president of commercial operations at Amgen. During his 16 year tenure at BMS, Hooper ran commercial operations for all of BMS’ products in both mature and emerging markets.

Amgen is reorganizing its R&D efforts because its EPO franchise revenues are declining and it is preparing to launch its recently approved osteoporosis drug called Prolia. According to a post on today’s Pharmalot blog the R&D overhaul is not an across the board reduction but will affect multiple sites. At present, Amgen employs about 17,600 workers worldwide.

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

Big Changes In Store For Amgen Employees?

Posted in BioJobBuzz

Remember when Amgen was the world’s largest and most profitable biotechnology company? That was way back in 2006 before its marketing and sales team got in trouble for “pushing” the sale of its erythropoietin (EPO) product Epogen and Aranesp beyond acceptable patient safety limits. This, along with a relatively thin new drug pipeline, has for the past five years or so relegated the company to second tier biotech company status.

To make matter worse, a company spokesperson mentioned its third-quarter earnings conference call today that the company is

 “…currently evaluating some changes within our Research & Development organization to improve focus and to reallocate resources to key pipeline assets and activities." This typically means that the possibility of layoffs is real. The last major restructuring of the company took place in 2007 and it resulted in the elimination of more than 2,000 jobs worldwide, including about 700 in Thousand Oaks.

This past June, Amgen announced plans to eliminate 134 jobs at two of its manufacturing sites in Colorado.

The company employs about 17,000 people, including about 6,200 in Thousand Oaks. Amgen also has research and development facilities in Thousand Oaks, South San Francisco,; Cambridge and Woburn, Mass.; Seattle; Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada; Abingdon, Cambridge and Uxbridge, Great Britain; and Regensburg, Germany.

In 2010, Amgen’s revenue totaled $15.1 billion, while research and development cost $2.9 billion, according to the company. Its net profit last year totaled $4.63 billion, up slightly less than 1 percent from 2009.

Could this signal the beginning of the end of this once formidable biotechnology giant? If I was an Amgen employee I would be feverishly updating my CV right about now!

Until next time…

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!


Is GSK Really Backing Away from Neuroscience R&D?

Posted in BioJobBuzz

Ask any pharmaceutical industry pundits about the “next big thing” in life sciences R&D and most will invariably say neuroscience indications like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson Disease and the like. Curiously, despite these prognostications, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) today announced that it would lay off 50 employees involved in neuroscience R &D.

The affected workers, all of whom are scientists working on late stage clinical development at various sites throughout the US, were first notified about the layoff on Valentine’s Day (nice gift). Interestingly, a GSK spokesperson was quick to point out that other neuroscience employees including marketing and sales would not be affected by the layoffs. Hm mm, I always thought you needed scientists to discover the drugs that will ultimately be marketed and sold by a company? In any event, no GSK operations outside of the US were affected by this round of layoffs.

The reason why the layoffs only affected clinical scientists is because GSK scaled back its investment into early stage research. And, according to the GSK spokesperson this means that “there’s not as much coming through that needs later stage clinical trials.” Also, last year, after GSK released fiscal 2009 results, the company announced it would “cease discovery research in selected neuroscience areas, including depression and pain.” I guess most of the layed off scientists worked on depression and pain (two emotions that layed off workers frequently suffer).

In case you haven’t noticed (because you spend too much time in the lab and on Facebook), most major pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies have slashed their investments into new drug discovery and development. This means that the demand for R&D scientists (in the US anyway) is much lower than ever before. Consequently, as I have stated numerous times in the past, now may be the time for graduate students and postdocs considering industrial R&D careers to re-evaluate their plans (unless R&D careers in emerging markets like Brazil, Russia, India and China are attractive).

Until next time ….

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting


Sanofi-Aventis to Shed 1,700 Jobs

Posted in BioJobBuzz

Late last Friday, Sanofi-Aventis announced that it was restructuring it US pharmaceutical business to meet the demands of a more challenging American healthcare market. The company said that it will streamline U.S. Pharmaceutical Operations and reduce its workforce by an estimated 25 percent. This translates into eliminating approximately 1,700 positions. Decisions about the breadth and scope of the cuts will be finalized by mid-December.

Of the 13,000 US employees, 6,900 work in the Pharmaceutical Operations division. Other Sanofi-Aventis affiliates in the United States include its R&D group, Sanofi Pasteur Vaccines, BiPar and Chattem: its consumer healthcare business.

According to Gregory Irace, President of Sanofi-Aventis and CEO of Sanofi-Aventis US/.Canada Pharmaceutical Operations,

“Given the serious challenges facing our organization and the healthcare industry, it is important to act decisively now so that our organization has greater stability moving forward and that our resources are allocated to our strategic growth priorities. These changes will foster a renewed focus on the strong growth and pipeline opportunities that will drive our vision of being a diversified healthcare leader.” Sanofi faces a serious “patent cliff” in the very near future; mainly because its top selling anti-clotting drug Plavix is slated to lose patent protection in 2011. Also, the company lacks expertise in biotechnology: the discipline that most big pharma companies is going to drive future growth in the industry."

The lack of biotechnology prowess is largely responsible for Sanofi’s attempt to purchase Genzyme, one of the largest and profitable biotechnology companies in the world.

Last week, Sanofi confirmed that its bid for Genzyme had become hostile because its management team and board of directors failed to seriously consider a bid tendered at $69 per share or $18.5 billion. Genzyme’s management team and board of directors immediately rejected the hostile bid (as it did in the past when the offer was “friendly”). The hostile bid allows Sanofi-Aventis to bypass Genzyme’s Board and appeal directly to its shareholders to consider the offer.

Restructuring of its US pharmaceutical operations, may be a sign that Sanofi-Aventis is attempting to cut costs to finance the all cash deal.

I suspect that Sanofi-Aventis will prevail in its bid for Genzyme; but it will have to sweeten the offer to appease activist investor Carl Icahn who is likely seeking an offer in excess of $75 per share.

If I were a betting man, I would put my money on Icahn—a brilliant financial strategist who frequently gets what he wants

Stay tuned for more late-breaking Sanofi-Aventis/Genzyme news!

Until next time…

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting