Another Day: More Pharmaceutical Layoffs

Posted in BioJobBuzz, Uncategorized

Endo International PLC, a Dublin, Ireland-based global speciality pharmaceutical company that sells generic and branded prescription drugs, today announced that it plans to layoff 375 US sales employees most of whom work in its branded pain sales force. The company manufactures several branded opioid pain medicines including OPANA ER® and Percocet® Ostensibly, the job cuts will yield  will free up $90 to $100 million that the company will used to restructure and refocus its business units.

The ongoing very public national discussion about opioid abuse has caused Endo to re-evaluate its new product development strategy ( the company stock has been hemorrhaging over the past year or so). To that end, the company announced a new focus on the drug Xiaflex, a penis curvature drug that the company acquired in its $2.6 billion buyout of Auxilium.  By focusing on new markets, the company hopes to reduce its financial dependency on its legacy opioid business that has been waning as new legislation restricting patient access to opioids continues to be passed in States that have been devastating by the growing opioid epidemic sweeping the US.

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!!!!!

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!!!!!!!!!

 

Emerging Opportunities for US Pharma and Biotech Sales Reps

Posted in BioEducation

Since 2001 many major pharmaceutical companies have been restructuring their sales forces and laying off reps to reduce redundancies, improve efficiencies and cut costs. This downsizing, which likely peaked about a year ago, is mainly in response to the projected loss of sales revenue as many blockbuster drugs lose patent protection over the next three years or so. For example, products like Lipitor, Plavix and Zyprexa that currently generate more than $142 billion in sales are expected to face stiff generic competition in the very near future.

Nevertheless, while many pharma companies are restructuring their sales forces, there is a growing demand for new reps at speciality pharma, biotechnology and generic drug companies. Unlike their pharma counterparts, the new reps are more specialized and require additional training to better understand how to maximize sales of increasingly complex products in both developed and emerging life sciences markets.  

One organization, National Association of Pharmaceutical Representatives (NAPRx), a trade organization that provides continuing education, certifications and career development for its members is helping to usher in the era of pharmaceutical and biotechnology sales reps. To that end, NAPRx has embarked on an aggressive advertising campaign to help to recruit and match sales representative with drug companies who are hiring. Many sales jobs are open throughout the US. Jobs are available in small cities like Littlerock, AR, Milwaukee, WI and Baton Rouge, LA as well as larger cities including Pittsburgh, PA, Los Angeles, CA,Boston, MA, Honolulu, HI and San Diego, CA. Starting salaries range from $65 to $85 K. For more information about other job openings please visit the BioJobCenter. 

In a previous blog post, I suggested that a career as a sales rep may represent viable alternate career opportunities for PhD-trained scientists who have an interest in sales and aren’t averse to earning a living selling drugs to physicians and other healthcare providers. Because of the complexity of newly approved biotechnology and speciality pharma products, drug makers are beginning to understand that persons with a strong background in molecular biology, immunology and pharmacology will be required to help to sell their products to physicians, hospitals and other healthcare organizations. That said, sespite the recent reductions in R &D for new drug development, there will always be a need for drug makers to sell their products! After all, selling drugs is how these companies remain in business. 

For more information about a career in pharmaceutical and biotechnology sales please visit the NAPRx website.

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!!!!!!

 

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!!!!!!

 

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!!!!!!!

 

Move Over China and India: Latin American Markets Are Sizzling

Posted in BioJobBuzz

While China and India have gotten the most attention as emerging pharmaceutical markets, Latin American markets most notably Mexico and Brazil (okay, it is a South American country but it can be included in Latin America) have been quietly expanding as rapidly as the Indian and Chinese markets. To wit, Denmark-based, Novo Nordisk—the world’s largest insulin maker—recently announced that it will be beefing up its medical consultant (aka sales reps) presence in Latin America over the next two to three years. During this period, the company expects to increase its current headcount of 300 to 800 employees.

Novo currently holds a 50 percent share of the Latin American insulin market. The company currently generates annual sales in Latin America of approximately $360 million. But, its main rivals Sanofi Aventis and Eli Lilly & Co, which sell faster-acting insulins, are beginning to cut into Novo’s market share.  The solution: add more sales reps in the region. While this may be great news for Latin American sales reps, it is not good news for American sales reps. Unless, of course, these reps speak Spanish and are willing to relocate!

Until next time…

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

 

Sanofi Aventis Announces New Layoffs

Posted in BioJobBuzz

Despite a lull in layoffs over the past summer, this fall is shaping up to another bad one for pharmaceutical employees. Late last week Novartis announced that it was laying off about 2,000 employees. Prior to the Novartis announcement, Amgen, AstraZeneca, and Merck have all disclosed plans to eliminate thousands of jobs on a worldwide basis.  To add insult to injury, Sanofi Aventis told its employees today that the company would be shifting operations from New Jersey to Massachusetts and that hundred of employees would be losing their jobs. While a Sanofi spokesperson refused to specify the exact number of employees who may lose their jobs, estimates are in the hundreds, mainly in R&D and sales in the oncology and cardiovascular areas.

The announcement was not unexpected because several weeks ago the company announced that it would cut another $2.9 billion in costs to offset pending generic encroachment on its top selling medications Plavix and Avapro. Further, consolidation of Sanofi’s R&D operations and its early development work to the Boston area is mainly a result of its acquisition of Genzyme earlier this year. To that end, later-stage development work will remain at Sanofi’s headquarters in Bridgewater, NJ while pharmaceutical R&D, Sanofi Pasteur biologics and global oncology has already been moved to Massachusetts. At present, Sanofi employs about 3,000 people in New Jersey and 5,000 in Massachusetts (including Genzyme employees).

Interestingly, while job cuts are taking place in western markets, hiring is brisk in emerging like China and India. For example, several months ago Pfizer announced that it was closing down its antibiotic discovery program in the US and moving it to China. Likewise, Novartis plans on sending some medicinal chemistry and regulatory work overseas to India. If the downsizing and outsourcing trends continue at their current pace, it will become increasingly difficult for most Americans to find pharmaceutical R&D jobs in the US. Can anybody still wonder why we may be losing ground to countries like India and China?

Until next time…

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