Sanofi-aventis to cut 1700 US jobs

Sanofi-aventis announced that it would cut 25 percent of its US pharmaceutical workforce, or about 1700 jobs, as part of a previously announced $2 billion euro cost-reduction plan. Company spokesperson Jack Cox noted that the layoffs, which will be finalised by mid-December, will include approximately 1400 sales positions, as well as 300 jobs at the company's Bridgewater, New Jersey office.

The drugmaker said that the workforce reductions will allow it to focus resources on key areas for its US pharmaceutical business, including drugs to treat diabetes, cancer and atrial fibrillation. Moreover, the company noted that the layoffs will position the company for growth in the wake of patent expiries, and increased business development.

By 2013, the drugmaker faces competition from generic versions of more than six of its top-selling products, including Plavix (clopidogrel), which the company markets with Bristol-Myers Squibb and has annual sales of about $9 billion. Commenting on the news, Cox noted that "barring any unforeseen events, we do believe the changes we're making now will make us the right size (in the US) for our product portfolio through 2013, when we expect to return to growth."

Calling the news "reassuring," Jeffrey Holford of Jeffries International said "it’s what we expected the company to do.” UBS analyst, Gbola Amusa, added that "if you’re going to lose that many new drugs, then you have to lose people." However, Amusa noted that he doesn’t consider the layoffs related to the company's bid to acquire Genzyme.

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