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Volume 90 Issue 40 | p. 13 | News of The Week
Issue Date: October 1, 2012 | Web Date: September 28, 2012

Sanofi’s R&D Revamp Detailed?

French pharma firm to cut 900 jobs in France but keep most research sites open
Department: Business
Keywords: pharmaceuticals, layoffs, France, R&D

Sanofi will eliminate 900 jobs in France by 2015 as it refocuses R&D efforts in its home country. The cuts are significantly fewer than the 2,500 job losses predicted by trade unions in July, when Sanofi said an overhaul in France was imminent.

The pharma firm has made significant changes to its internal R&D network since 2009. In addition to selling R&D sites in Porcheville, France, and Alnwick, England, it closed research labs in Malvern, Pa., and Bridgewater, N.J.

Sanofi CEO Christopher A. Viehbacher said in the company’s second-quarter earnings conference call that the layoffs in France are not driven by its larger efforts to cut costs. The moves are prompted by the firm’s ongoing attempt to improve the R&D process, an effort that Viehbacher notes has worked for the firm in other countries. Viehbacher pointed out that the French research operations have failed to invent a new drug for two decades.

Despite fears to the contrary, the majority of the company’s French research sites will remain open, although activities at some will be refocused.

The fate of the company’s oncology research center in Toulouse and its 600 workers remains unclear. Sanofi said it has identified “potential stakeholders who could maintain the site’s scientific or technological capacity” and that it hopes to provide a clear plan in the next few months. Plavix, a blood thinner that has netted Sanofi billions of dollars in annual sales but that lost patent protection in the U.S. in May, was discovered in Toulouse.

 
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