Alex Philippidis Senior News Editor Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News

Find out which companies axed the most workers last year.

2012 was not the best year for jobs, although it did get better as the year went on, going from an 8.3% unemployment rate in the U.S. in January to 7.8% in December. However, while layoffs might be happening less and less often, they’re still occurring in every industry, including biopharma. Reasons given run from “eliminating redundancies” to “restructuring”. You’ve seen lists of the top 10 pharma firms and the 10 best regions to find a biotech job; now find out which biopharma companies passed out the most pink slips last year.

Below is a list of biopharma companies with the largest numbers of layoffs during 2012. Companies are listed in order by number of layoffs, followed by the location(s) of job cuts, the stated reason or contributing factors, the dates of announcement and occurrence, projected savings, and costs and charges attributed to the layoffs.

#10. Dendreon

Total workforce reduction: More than 500 full-time and contractor jobs, primarily administrative and R&D positions 1

Locations: Companywide, including Seattle Morris Plains, NJ

Stated reason and/or contributing factors: Restructuring intended to align support costs with industry norms for companies of similar size and complexity, following weaker-than-anticipated sales of prostate cancer drug Provenge

Announced: Initial layoffs announced July 30, 2012 and planned to occur over a 12-month period; Novartis deal announced December 20, 2012

Projected savings: $150 million in annual savings

Costs & charges: $81 million one-time charge related to cash and non-cash restructuring expenses associated with the restructuring, recorded in Q3 2012

#9. Pfizer

Total workforce reduction: Number of jobs undisclosed by Pfizer, though Bloomberg News reported the number at 600, citing an unnamed source

Locations: Across the U.S.

Announced: Unannounced. Affected employees would have been notified by December 20, 2012, Dow Jones reported, citing an unnamed source

Stated reason and/or contributing factors: In its January 29 press release announcing Q4 and full-year 2012 results, Pfizer cited “a reduction in the field force” along with a decrease in promotional spending, both of which it said occurred “partially in response to product losses of exclusivity and more streamlined corporate support functions.” The company has seen sales declines tied to the loss of patent protection, notably for cholesterol-reduction drug Lipitor, which generated $9.6 billion in revenue in 2011

Projected savings: Not specified, but included within the $515 million difference—a decline of about 10%—between the nearly $4.7 billion in adjusted Selling, Informational and Administrative (SI&A) expenses incurred during Q4 2012, and the nearly $5.2 billion in adjusted SI&A expenses recorded for Q4 2011.

Costs & charges: Not specified. Pfizer took $529 million in restructuring charges during Q4 2012 for “cost-reduction and productivity initiatives.”

#8. Lundbeck

Total workforce reduction: “Around” 600 jobs

Locations: Mostly in European subsidiaries

Announced: June 14, 2012; “In progress” as of November 7, 2012

Stated reason and/or contributing factors: Part of restructuring intended to create “a more flexible commercial infrastructure and to maintain cost control” ahead of “multiple future product launches,” Lundbeck president and CEO Ulf Wiinberg said in a statement. Restructuring followed decline in sales of antidepressant drug Cipralex in Europe due to competition from generics following loss of patent protection for drug, sold in the U.S. as Lexapro

Projected savings: No figure announced

Costs & charges: Uncertain but could amount to up to a one-time charge of DKK 500 million ($91.4 million)

#7. Sanofi

Total workforce reduction: Approximately 1,000 jobs 2

Location: 900 of 28,000 positions in France (3% of workforce) to be eliminated through 2015, mainly through voluntary measures such as early retirements, and reassignments within the company. Also includes 100 of 1,700 positions at the Laval research site near Montreal, Canada (6% of workforce)

Stated reason and/or contributing factors: Restructuring of R&D operations intended to “establish new momentum for success in our research activities”; improve economic performance of industrial units to ensure their ability to compete in increasingly competitive vaccine markets; and streamline support functions2

Announced: September 25, 2012, occurring through 2015 (France); January 11, 2012 (Canada)

Projected savings: None announced specific to France and Canada. Part of five-year, €2 billion ($2.7 billion) cost-cutting initiative announced in September 2011, following $20.1 billion acquisition of Genzyme earlier that year and loss of patent protection for several blockbusters

Costs & charges: None announced specific to France and Canada. Sanofi has disclosed a €107 million (about $146 million) charge against property, plant and equipment in the first half of 2012 toward “ongoing reorganization of Research and Development activities”.

#6. Roche

Total workforce reduction: About 1,100 jobs 3

Locations: 1,000 pharma Research and Early Development (pRED) positions in Nutley, NJ due to planned shutdown of site; 120 Applied Science jobs in Madison, WI, Iceland, and Germany; 100 Diabetes Care jobs in Indianapolis and Mannheim, Germany; 80 Pharmaceuticals Division-Global Informatics jobs in Indianapolis.

Stated reason and/or contributing factors: pRED activities restructured to make more resources available for the growing number of products in late-stage development, and further improve efficiency. Applied sciences programs restructured following 3% year-to-year sales dip blamed on increasing competition in sequencing and a slowdown in public research funding. Diabetes care programs restructured after 4% sales slide from 2011 attributed to reimbursement cuts for blood glucose monitoring products in Europe, intensified price pressure worldwide, and other difficult market conditions

Announced: June 26, 2012; Occurring through end of 2013

Projected savings: CHF 370 million (about $407.4 million) annually from shutdown of Nutley facility. No other savings forecasts.

Costs & charges: CHF 1.3 billion ($1.4 billion) toward restructurings of pRED, and Diagnostics Division’s Applied Science and Diabetes Care businesses. CHF 49 million ($53.9 million) toward global informatics restructuring, which “mainly consist of severance payments and other employee-related costs.”

#5. Abbott Laboratories

Total workforce reduction: 1,250 jobs

Locations: 700 diagnostic tests, heart stents, and pharma manufacturing jobs in U.S. and Puerto Rico; 550 established pharmaceuticals, medical devices, molecular diagnostics, and nutrition jobs worldwide

Announced: January 25, 2012 (700-job round); October 17, 2012 (550-job round)

Stated reason and/or contributing factors: Discontinuation of some “mature” products in the hospital and laboratory diagnostics division, part of a restructuring plan announced in 2008 (700-job round); need to align resources to better meet evolving business needs (550-job round)

Projected savings: No projections announced for either round

Costs & charges: Part of $332 million or 18 cent per-share charge against Q4 2011 earnings (700-job round) for “restructuring/integration/other.” Abbott said the category includes “previously announced cost reduction initiatives to improve efficiencies in the pharmaceutical, vascular, and core laboratory diagnostics businesses,” as well as “certain new efficiency programs” and the 2010 acquisition of Solvay’s pharmaceutical unit; $478 million charge against Q3 earnings, toward both 2012 layoff rounds, as well as plans to cut “several hundred” additional jobs in 2013.

#4. Merck KGaA

Total workforce reduction: 1,600 jobs 4

Locations: 1,100 positions in Germany; 500 positions in Switzerland

Stated reason and/or contributing factors: German cutbacks were part of a company-wide restructuring announced in February, following the failure of drug candidates cladribine for multiple sclerosis and Erbitux for lung tumors; Geneva campus shutdown part of a cost-cutting consolidation following the company’s 2006 acquisition of Serono.

Announced: September 4, 2012 (Germany); Swiss plans updated in a Tribune de Genève report of Sept. 29-30, 2012, following initial April 24, 2012, announcement of Geneva campus shutdown

Projected savings: No figures announced

Costs & charges: Not specified but within the €45 million ($60.1 million) recorded in Q3 2012 for company’s “Fit for 2018” consolidation initiative.

#3. Novartis

Total workforce reduction: 1,960 jobs

Locations: 330 positions at U.S. headquarters in East Hanover, NJ; 1,630 field sales positions across the U.S.

Stated reason and/or contributing factors: Restructuring following loss of patent protection for one blood pressure drug Diovan; slowdown in sales of Rasilez®/Tekturna® (aliskiren), another blood pressure drug.

Announced: January 13, 2012 (1,960-job round); completed during Q2 2012

Projected savings: About $450 million annually by 2013. Novartis applied $100 million in savings to Q2 2012 results

Costs & charges: $149 million in 2012 for restructuring of U.S. Pharmaceuticals operations.

#2. Takeda

Total workforce reduction: 2,800 jobs (9% of workforce), across R&D, commercial functions and operations

Locations: 2,100 jobs in Europe, 700 in the U.S.

Stated reason and/or contributing factors: Restructuring operations to eliminate redundancies and positioning company toward a more diverse portfolio of newer products, following €9.6 billion ($13 billion) acquisition of Nycomed in 2011

Announced: January 18, 2012; occurring through 2016

Projected savings: About ¥200 billion (about $2.2 billion) over five years

Costs & charges: Approximately ¥70 billion ($767.6 million) during FY 2012-2016, of which ¥35.489 billion ($389.2 million) in “restructuring costs” were incurred during the fiscal year, ending March 31, 2012.

#1. AstraZeneca

Total workforce reduction: 7,500 jobs 5

Locations: Worldwide

Stated reason and/or contributing factors: Designed to “improve productivity and strengthen the company’s commercial, operations and research and development capabilities.” AZ has faced declines in sales of drugs coming off patent protection, which have lost sales to generics; they include Arimidex (anastrozole) for certain types of breast cancer in postmenopausal women, heartburn drug Nexium (esomeprazole magnesium), and depression and schizophrenia drug Seroquel (quetiapine fumarate).

Announced: February 2, 2012; occurring over two years

Projected savings: $1.6 billion annually by the end of 2014

Costs & charges: $2.1 billion.

Information verified through a combination of SEC filings, press releases, and multiple news reports. In most cases the layoffs were announced; however, in some cases workforce reductions went unannounced until their disclosure in news reports or, in the case of public companies, filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

1 More than 600 jobs were originally announced as being eliminated: 41% of 1,475 employees, the company disclosed as of February 23, 2012. Figure includes 200 of 300 reported jobs at the Morris Plains, NJ, immunotherapy manufacturing plant; Novartis has said it will retain about 100 Dendreon employees when it takes over operations at the plant, acquired for $43 million. Also includes 145 Seattle jobs eliminated in November, according to a state filing.
2 Sanofi announced an outline of its restructuring: Development activities in Vitry/Alfortville, Chilly-Mazarin/Longjumeau and Lyon would continue as present; Montpellier would progressively evolve toward a strategic center focused on development; Vitry/Alfortville and Chilly-Mazarin/Longjumeau research activities would be increased; Strasbourg would promote collaboration between academic researchers and biotechs. A global center of excellence in infectious diseases would be created in Lyon, and a research center in Toulouse was spared from earlier plans for closure. Sanofi promised it had no plans to move any of its sites or reduce the number of industrial locations.
3 Roche’s 2012 Annual Report restated earlier-announced plans for a Translational Clinical Research Center at the Alexandria Center for Life Science in New York City, with “over 200” employees, most to be shifted from Nutley. The original announcement said “approximately 240,” most from Nutley.
4 Includes planned elimination of 1,100 jobs in Germany, 10% of the German workforce, by the end of 2015, mainly through attrition and early retirements. Merck KGaA has refused to rule out layoffs, but has promised not to force out any workers until the end of 2017, “with the exception of possible site closures and transfers that are still being assessed.” The German job cuts are part of companywide “Fit for 2018” consolidation initiative. Also includes 500 jobs not transferred withinthe  company following the April 24, 2012, announcement of the planned shutdown of the campus in Geneva, Switzerland, where 1,250 jobs had been based. Of the 1,250, according to the Tribune de Genève report, translated into English by the blog Towards Better Health, 750 were later invited to transfer to existing jobs within the company. Of those, 260 accepted transfers within Merck KGaA, 170 took jobs in other companies, 80 took early retirement, 40 joined the CRO operations of Quintiles, and 16 joined three Merck-launched startups with help from a €30 million ($40.9 million) employee assistance program.
5 Includes a 7,300-job round consisting of 3,750 selling, general & administrative jobs, 2,200-plus R&D jobs, and 1,350 operations jobs, as well as 200 jobs at subsidiary MedImmune.

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