The patent losses and sales declines have been accompanied by job cuts. AstraZeneca moved early in the year when it disclosed that 7,300 positions will be eliminated, including more than 2,000 in R&D.
Notably, the company made big cuts in neuroscience research. But it also made a strategic change. AstraZeneca increasingly employs scientists who work primarily on data generated by academic and other research partners that perform experiments designed in collaboration with the drug company. The move highlights an increasing emphasis on research partnerships and on mathematical modeling and statistical analysis in the drug industry.
Other firms cut staff in reorganizations in 2012. Merck Serono cut 500 jobs in April in the process of closing its headquarters in Switzerland and moving operations to its parent company in Germany. And in a move that heavily impacted New Jersey’s “pharmaceutical alley,” Roche announced it will close its operations in Nutley, N.J., which had served as the company’s U.S. headquarters for decades. About 1,000 jobs will be eliminated.
Novartis said it will shed nearly 2,000 jobs in the U.S. in the face of losing patent exclusivity for Diovan, a blood pressure medicine that had sales of $6 billion in 2010. Meanwhile, Sanofi Pasteur, the vaccines arm of Sanofi, launched a manufacturing-oriented restructuring program expected to eliminate as many as 2,000 jobs across France. Sanofi itself announced a revamp of its research operations in France that will eliminate 900 jobs by 2015.I wonder what 2013 will bring? Good things, I hope, but I am not feeling it.