Pfizer Slashes 300 Jobs in Canada

Pfizer Slashes 300 Jobs in Canada

October 30th, 2012 // 4:58 pm @


As part of its ongoing job cutting, Pfizer is eliminating 300 jobs from its Canadian operations, mostly in sales and marketing, in what is the latest blow to pharmaceutical employment in the country. The cuts amount to roughly 11 percent of the Pfizer (PFE) workforce in Canada, The Globe and Mailnotes.

The move comes more than a year after the drugmaker disclosed plans to cut another $1 billion or so in expenses, with a first phase that will amount to $500 million in cutbacks that were to take place last year. The move came in response to the loss of patent protection for the Lipitor cholesterol pill, a $10.7 billion seller, and other big-selling meds.

For Quebec, the job losses are only the latest in a series of such actions taken by drugmakers. Last month, Boehringer Ingelheim announced plans to close a research facility in Laval, Quebec, that employs 170 lab workers. And over the past two years, AstraZeneca (AZN) trimmed 132 jobs, Sanofi (SNY) axed 100 jobs, Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) shed 125 jobs and Merck (MRK) cut 200 jobs.

The paper writes that Quebec attracted drugmakers through “generous” R&D tax credits and reimbursement policies. Once a drug is on the provincial formulary, Quebec will reimburse full cost for 15 years, even if its patent expires and cheaper generics become available.

Recently, however, officials have begun reconsidering the policy, which cost Quebec $193-million in 2011-12, up from $162-million in the previous fiscal year. “Clearly, the series of closures represents a concern, but we haven’t made up our minds yet on the actions we intend to take,” a spokeswoman for Élaine Zakaib, Quebec’s new industrial policy minister, tells the paper.

The cuts, by the way, are mounting just as Rx&D, the trade group for the pharmaceutical industry in Canada, last week released a report boasting that, nationwide, some 46,000 people are employed by drugmakers, several of which made investments to expand various operations (read here).

Investments aside, the pharmaceutical industry has, of course, been eliminating thousands upon thousands of jobs over the past year in response to expiring patents on best-selling medicines and difficulty bringing new drugs to market. At the same time, expansion has occurred more rapidly in such countries as India, where R&D costs are lower and domestic markets are large.

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