Merck tops 2011 job cuts

 Merck (MSD outside the US) topped the job-cutting charts in 2011 as the industry witnessed another year of workforce reductions after a series of cost-cutting measures from a number of pharma giants.

Merck revealed plans in July to reduce its workforce by 12,000 to 13,000 following its merger in 2009 and to realign expenses with the expected reduction in revenue when Singulair loses its exclusivity in August, in an attempt to save $1.5billion.

Pfizer followed Merck after it after cut thousands of jobs after planning to close R&D plants in Sandwich, Kent, at a cost of around 2,400 jobs and in Connecticut accounting for a further 1,100 positions. An additional 500 employees in Germany and 220 in Spain have also reportedly been axed.

The world’s largest research-based pharma company aims to cut its R&D budget by $1.5 billion after realigning its investigational priorities and following the loss of exclusivity on its blockbuster drug Lipitor.

Novartis came third when wielding the axe after it revealed plans to reduce its workforce by 2,000 in an attempt to save $200 million a year. Workers were relieved of their duties at sites across Europe and reportedly in New Jersey. However, the company did invest somewhere in the region of $600 on a new R&D facility in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Abbott Laboratories followed in fourth position after it revealed at the start of last year that it would tackle the challenging regulatory environment by cutting 1,900 employees, or 6% of its staff. Further upheaval is also expected in 2012 when the company completes its breakup of the company into one focused pharmaceutical business and one solely for medical products.

AstraZeneca completed the top-five after it shed more than 1,500 positions in the US and Europe last year as it braced itself for the expiration of patents on brands on Seroquel by reducing its American sales team by nearly a quarter. The London-based company did however increase its presence in the emerging Chinese market.

Teva Pharmaceuticals, Sanofi, Johnson & Johnson, Eisai and Bayer Healthcare completed the top-ten companies for job losses as the industry struggled to compensate for major brand patent expiries, a challenging healthcare environment and a need to align expenses with growth targets.