Bristol Myers Cuts 500 More Jobs

Bristol Myers Cuts 500 More Jobs

November 9th, 2012 // 1:52 pm @

And the parade of layoffs continues. The latest drugmaker to shed some workers is Bristol-Myers Squibb, which plans to eliminate 479 sales reps and related jobs now that Otsuka Pharmaceuticals will assume responsbility for marketing the Abilify antipsycotic in the US, a spokeswoman tells us. The job cuts were disclosed in a state notice.

The revised co-marketing deal “allows BMS to simplify operations, improve its efficiency while also better positioning itself to focus on important work in cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hepatitis and immunoscience, areas of significant unmet medical need that are critical to our long-term success,” the Bristol-Myers spokeswoman writes us.

The move comes amid a difficult stretch for the drugmaker. The FDA has repeatedly postponed a final decision on whether to approve its Eliquis bloodthinner, which is part of a joint effort with Pfizer (read here). A decision is now expected in March. And two months ago, Bristol-Myers (BMY) also dropped an experimental hepatitis C treatment after a patient death and hospitalizations. Earlier this year, the drugmaker agreed to pay $2.5 billion in cash for Inhibitex and the compound (back story).

Bristol-Myers recently reported quarterly earnings that missed Wall Street expectations, even though it was already widely known that a ‘patent cliff’ effect was under way. This, of course, refers to the loss of patent protection for big-selling drugs and the subsequent emergence of lower-cost generic competition. An example is the Plavix bloodthinner.

This challenge has not spared other large drugmakers, which have also been slashing jobs. In recent weeks, Pfizer (PFE) cut 300 jobs in Quebec; Johnson & Johnson (J&J) eliminated 130 spots after an Alzheimer’s treatment failed; Teva Pharmaceuticals (TEVA) cut 65 jobs at its California plant; Abbott Laboratories (ABT) axed 550 jobs as its prepares for its AbbVie spinoff; Merck (MRK) cuts 150 jobs as part of an ongoing restructuring, and AstraZeneca (AZN) eliminated 260 positions from its MedImmune unit that are also part of a previously announced reorganization (read here, here and here).

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