Who’s losing drug jobs

    Pharmaceutical companies in the region are shedding unprecedented numbers of employees.

    Pharmaceutical companies in the region are shedding unprecedented numbers of employees.

    Listen:

    [audio:091106kgjobs.mp3]

    Now that Pfizer and Wyeth have merged, and so have Merck and Schering Plough, tens of thousands of employees face layoffs.

    On top of that, add the 8000 job cuts that Johnson and Johnson announced last week, and another 7000 cuts from Astra Zeneca. All told…

    Staton: You’re looking at a blood bath in pharma.

    Tracy Staton is the editor of Fierce Pharma. She calculates that drug companies have trimmed more than 100,000 positions in the last eighteen months.

    Many of these firms have facilities in this region, but the job loss is spread globally. Staton says many of the positions have been in sales.

    Staton: A lot of the companies are going to more high tech methods of sales, where they do drug promotion over the Internet. So you’re going to see the kinds of technology-replacing-people things that you’ve seen in other industries.

    Most recently, companies are eying research and drug development jobs for elimination — looking instead to outsource that kind of work. Colleen Hamilton’s group, the Life Sciences Career Alliance, is working to find those laid off workers new positions in the Delaware Valley.

    Hamilton: I think it’s probably the most difficult task for the research and development life science professionals to look to see what their future may be, because typically they would like to try to stay in the same type of company doing the same job.

    Bill Ashton is the dean of the Mayes College of Healthcare Business and Policy at the University of the Sciences. He says salespeople, researchers, and even executives are getting the axe.

    Ashton: I’ve got these people, to be frank with you, calling me looking for teaching jobs because there’s just nothing out there and typically they want to stay in the area. So this is draconian from what I’ve seen before.

    Job cuts and mergers among pharmaceutical companies have been propelled by the anticipation of top-selling, brand-name drugs like Lipitor losing their patent protection. The upside to this trend is that generic manufacturers, like Pennsylvania’s Teva, are considered to be thriving.

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