Thursday, November 7, 2013

2013 not shaping up to be a great year for pharma: Challenger reports 19,507 jobs lost

The big news first: Challenger, Gray and Christmas (which is a company that does outplacement services for large firms, and tracks layoffs as a result) reported that there have been 19,507 jobs lost in the US pharmaceutical sector for 2013, with pharma announcing 10,585 cuts in October. That's a big number, and as you can see below, that easily beats 2012 (14,150.)


The inspiration for this chart, of course, is Matt Herper's vital and still-relevant analysis that he put together in April of 2011. John Carroll (FierceBiotech) followed it up in October 2012, and I'm just adding the relevant numbers so that the chart is up to date. (See here for the spreadsheet that the above chart is based on, I'm putting the links to the relevant Challenger press releases below.)

Since 2000 until the end of October 2013, according to Challenger's numbers, there have been 349,502 jobs lost in the US pharmaceutical industry. As Matt smartly pointed out in 2011:
"not all those people remained unemployed, and the total headcount of the pharmaceutical industry did not drop that much. Many of those who were laid off were probably hired back by other drug makers. Some folks have probably been laid off more than once. It’s also worth noting that big mergers are one reason for the cuts."
This is a vital industry, and one that I'm proud to be a part of. While I think there are definitely glimmers of hope here and there, times are still very hard. Best wishes to all of us.

Press releases: Total 2011 Challenger numbers, total 2012 numbers, October 2013 numbers.

9 comments:

  1. I'd love to see these numbers plotted against overall chemical employment. My gut says it's worse.

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    1. Which category are you interested in?

      US BLS numbers for chemists, BLS numbers for everyone in chemical manufacturing, or Challenger numbers for the chemical industry (as opposed to pharma)?

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    2. Everyone in chemical manufacturing and the chemical industry. My suspicion is that pharma is about 10 yrs behind the chemical industry trends in employment.

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  2. Obviously this means we need more chemistry students, to fill all these empty positions.

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  3. The only way to beat the West to East job drain is going to be to offer incentives to bring them back this way.

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  4. People need to realize that the pharmaceutical industry and most careers in chemistry are not viable career paths anymore. Everyone I know has either completely left the field or has one foot out of the door.

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  5. PBS Frontline recently had a show about drug-resistent bacteria. The show itself was interesting, but buried in all the supplemental material on their website was an interview with Charles Knirsch, VP of Clinical Research at Pfizer, who had this to say about hiring practices in big pharma:

    “There’s a lot of movement in the industry. There’s movement from academia to biotech, from biotech to academia. There’s a lot of movement, and we think that’s a good idea. We think that new people come into teams, they cross-pollinate with ideas, they bring new capabilities. … Movement in the industry is not something unusual. It’s pretty standard.

    … There’s a school of thought now that a lot of turnover frequently keeps teams alive and dynamic and allows them to innovate [more easily] versus the first generation, the second generation, the third generation, a little more stability in organizations. … I think disbanding and then re-forming different teams is fine, in terms of just the human-person part of this. …”

    Link: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/health-science-technology/hunting-the-nightmare-bacteria/dr-charles-knirsch-these-are-not-ruthless-decisions/

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    1. I saw that Frontline. I had to laugh when that guy (Charles Knirsch) was asked why Pfizer closed down its antibiotic R and D; he basically could not say it was closed because it would not be a moneymaker, but kept using buzzwords. Said the word "portfolio" several times, as I recall. He should be called "the great dissembler." He's perfect for big Pharma.

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    2. This guy inspired a rant on Twitter about how much I hate the word "de-risk."

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