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February 24, 2014

Top 10 Job-Cutting Companies of 2013

Find out which firms put the most employees on the chopping block last year.

Top 10 Job-Cutting Companies of 2013

Plans to eliminate a total of more than 28,000 jobs were disclosed last year. [© jwblinn - Fotolia.com]

  • #5. Novartis

    Number of job layoffs disclosed: 1,804 jobs

    Details: All 371 jobs at a respiratory R&D site in Horsham, West Sussex, U.K.; a net 325 jobs lost by eliminating 500 R&D positions companywide while adding 175 jobs in Cambridge, MA;11 all 300 jobs over two years at Lincoln, NE, consumer-drugs plant;12 all 300 jobs at Alcon contact lens plant in Mississauga, Canada; 262 Ciba Vision workers in Des Plains, IL; about 120 jobs at Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research’s Alcon Labs campus in Fort Worth, TX; 72 mostly field-based marketing and sales support positions for diabetes and COPD products in the U.K.; 54 global legal, IT, HR, finance, procurement, and vaccines research positions in Emeryville, CA.

    Why the company did it: Part of R&D restructuring designed to cut drug development costs; Lincoln plant being repositioned for production of solids and powder, principally for Sentinel, Excedrin, and Theraflu.12 Company is consolidating Ciba Vision and Alcon Laboratories, and concentrating U.S.-based eye disease research in Cambridge, MA. Fort Worth production will be scaled down to solid and powdered drugs only. Emeryville jobs were eliminated as part of a realignment of the facility away from vaccine R&D and more toward diagnostics.

    Size of total workforce: Workforce reduced from a total 133,000 employees.

  • #4. Valeant Pharmaceuticals

    Number of job layoffs disclosed: 2,700 jobs

    Details: 10% to 15% reduction in workforce, or up to 2,700 jobs, following its acquisition of Bausch + Lomb for $8.7 billion

    Why the company did it: Part of a restructuring designed to cut costs following the Bausch + Lomb acquisition, in part by consolidating locations. Company has not detailed where it will cut jobs, though Valeant chairman and CEO J. Michael Pearson told employees it will eliminate Bausch + Lomb’s global structure and reduce “significantly” its regional structure to reflect Valeant’s decentralized operating philosophy, which entails a corporate staff of fewer than 100 people.13

    Size of total workforce: Workforce reduced from the combined 18,000 employees resulting from Bausch + Lomb acquisition.

  • #3. Teva Pharmaceutical Industries

    Number of job layoffs disclosed: About 5,000 jobs

    Details: 10% reduction in workforce planned by 2017; earlier this year, company committed to carrying out the job cuts as announced October 10 by then-CEO Jeremy Levin, D.Phil., who resigned less than a month later after 17 months in office. Company has not detailed where it will cut jobs and how operations would be affected.

    Why the company did it: Part of a global restructuring intended to increase organization effectiveness, improve manufacturing efficiency, reduce excess capacity, and divest the company of non-core assets. The restructuring also addresses anticipated challenges, such as the launch of a generic version of the company’s top-selling drug, the multiple sclerosis treatment Copaxone.

    Size of total workforce: Workforce to shrink from approximately 45,000 employees as of December 31, 2013.

  • #2. AstraZeneca

    Number of job layoffs disclosed: 3,900 jobs

    Details: 2,300 SG&A jobs, announced March 21, 2013, and 1,600 R&D, announced three days earlier.

    Why the company did it: Part of a comeback strategy by CEO Pascal Soriot following years of clinical setbacks involving drug candidates the company hoped would make up for sales revenues to be lost from “patent cliff” expirations through 2014, when the company will lose U.S. patent protection for two of its biggest selling drugs—its proton pump inhibitor Nexium, and its asthma and COPD medicine Symbicort.

    Size of total workforce: Workforce will shrink from a total of about 51,700 employees (Annual Report and Form 20-F Information 2012). The 2013 layoffs brought to 5,050 the number of jobs—roughly 10% of the current workforce—slated for elimination through 2016 as of December 31, 2013.14

  • #1. Merck & Co.

    Number of job layoffs disclosed: 8,500 jobs

    Details: 8,500 R&D and commercial operations jobs to be eliminated companywide through 2015, announced October 1. Merck has confirmed or disclosed layoffs as they have occurred: 500 jobs in West Point, PA, an unknown number in Puerto Rico, all 570 employees at a manufacturing plant in Swords, Ireland, and all 152 sales representatives based in Upper Gwynedd, PA who had promoted the antipsychotic drug Saphris (asenapine), effective February 3.15,16

    Why the company did it: Part of a restructuring designed to help company bolster its pipeline and cut costs, while increasing flexibility through a more agile operating model that will target more spending to what it deems highest-potential growth opportunities.

    Size of total workforce: The new layoffs, on top of an earlier-announced reduction of 8,500 jobs, will shrink by some 20% the company’s global workforce of 81,000 employees.