Novartis hands out 2,500 pink slips

According to at least one media report, Novartis has laid off 2,500 people over the past year

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BASEL, Switzerland—According to recent reporting by Swissdaily Tages Anzeiger, Novartis axed some 2,500 jobs at sites across the worldover the past year in a bid to control costs. Thus far, Novartis spokespeoplehaven't confirmed whether that number is accurate but regardless of thespecifics, the company isn't alone, with nearby rival Roche—also based inBasel, Switzerland—having announced it was also seeking to cut costs by layingoff several thousand workers.
Novartis spokesman Eric Althoff has confirmed to the mediathat many jobs have been cut in the past year to "increase efficiency,"including the elimination of 1,400 sales jobs in the United States in November,which came about when Novartis decided to focus more strongly on marketing drugto specialists and hospitals and scaling back its efforts toward generalmedical  practitioners that require moremarketing effort. Althoff also noted that the closing and sale of variousplants, production sites and other facilities resulted in other job cuts.
At the heart of Novartis' financial troubles, as with somany other Big Pharmas, is the issue of strong generic competition and a lackof blockbuster drugs coming out of pipelines. In the case of Novartis, itsbreast cancer drug Femara and its blood pressure drug Diovan are both losingpatent protection. 
In the United States also came recent news of layoffs, withMerck & Co. last week informing its employees via memo that it can't reachits goal of cutting up to 13,000 jobs by 2015—a move spurred in large part by genericcompetition pressures—simply by eliminating vacant jobs. As such, the companyhas decided to accelerate the pace of layoffs in the United States. Reportedly,by the end of October Merck will notify employees who are losing their jobs,with the major areas affected being marketing and customer solutions; managedmarkets and policy; strategy and commercial model innovation; and theneuropsychiatric and women's healthcare specialty sales teams. 

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