Amgen, for instance, has focused most of its cuts in manufacturing and R&D in an effort to revamp its organizational structure. But others might pursue a different method, especially in an era of a changing pharmaceutical sales force and more sophisiticated healthcare payers that increasingly have a say in the way that biopharma does business.
Between 2009 and 2013, U.S. biopharma eliminated at least 156,000 American jobs, including scaling back R&D departments, slashing sales teams, and eliminating redundancies in post-merger workforces.
Since then, the industry has continued to slice and dice sections of its employment base, particularly in the wake of a record level of M&A activity in the sector (there were 182 biopharma deals totaling $212 billion in 2014 alone, and 2015 looks on pace to beat that record). The Wall Street Journal points out that Pfizer, for example, has a habit of snapping up big companies and then chopping up jobs as it realizes synergies from those deals.
This shouldn't be particularly surprising, according to Dan Mendelson, president and CEO of healthcare analytics firm Avalere Health. "[W]henever there's a consolidation, there are efficiencies that are created by the fact that there are two heads of managed markets, there's two heads of government relations, two heads of commercial," he told BioPharma Dive in a telephone interview.
"So you end up being able to achieve cost savings as a result of that duplication. And that is a natural consequence of mergers because that's the way that they achieve efficiencies. And good or bad, that's what they end up doing," he said.
With the pace of biopharma M&A activity on the rise, the number of these merger-related layoffs will continue to grow. To cite just one major recent example, biotech giant Amgen announced in March that it would cut about 40% of the remaining workforce (about 300 employees) at subsidiary Onyx Pharmaceuticals and shutter one of its facilities in south San Francisco. All told, Amgen announced approximately 4,000 layoffs in 2014.
But while it's obvious that a merger or acquisition portends job cuts, what's less obvious is where, exactly, those layoffs might take place at a given company. And some firms use the advent of an M&A to "rightsize" certain parts of its workforce.