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R&D On The Chopping Block

Big pharma's path through the recession is littered with job and program cuts and plant closures

by Lisa M. Jarvis
June 7, 2010 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 88, Issue 23


R&D On The Chopping Block


February: Wyeth announces plans to cut up to 5,000 jobs—or 10% of its workforce—over three years.

April: Eli Lilly & Co. says it will eliminate up to 500 manufacturing and R&D jobs at its Indianapolis headquarters.

May: Merck & Co. ends natural products drug research in Spain, affecting 50 R&D jobs there and some positions in Rahway, N.J.

August: Lilly sells its Greenfield, Ind., site to Covance and enters into a 10-year R&D outsourcing pact with the contract research firm. Roughly 265 out of 800 employees move to Covance.

October: Pfizer ends research in anemia, bone health, obesity, gastrointestinal disease, and some cardiovascular diseases.

October: GlaxoSmithKline plans to cut preclinical development and molecular discovery research, impacting up to 850 jobs, or 6% of its R&D staff.

November: Merck says it will shed 12% of its workforce—or about 7,200 employees—in a program designed to save $4 billion through 2013. Research facilities in Seattle; Tsukuba, Japan; and Pomezia, Italy, are targeted for closure.

December: Bristol-Myers Squibb unveils plans to eliminate about 3,700 jobs—or 10% of its workforce—by 2010. A 2007 cost-savings program had separately targeted 4,350 jobs.


January: Pfizer buys Wyeth, plans to eliminate 15% of the combined workforce of about 128,000.

March: Merck acquires Schering-Plough, plans to cut 15% of combined workforce of 106,000.

April: Sanofi-Aventis overhauls its pipeline. Research on 14 drug and vaccine candidates, including seven in Phase II or III trials, is discontinued.

September: Lilly reorganizes into five units—oncology, diabetes, established markets, emerging markets, and animal health—and plans to eliminate 5,500 jobs, or nearly 14% of employees, by the end of 2011.

November: Pfizer plans to shutter six of its 20 research sites to reduce overall lab space by 35%. Research will end in South Brunswick, N.J.; Chazy and Rouses Point, N.Y.; Sanford, N.C.; and Gosport and Slough, England. Roughly 1,300 researchers work at the locations earmarked for closure.


January: GSK proposes ending R&D at several sites, including Tonbridge, England; Verona, Italy; Zagreb, Croatia; and Poznań, Poland. Preclinical development ends in Mississauga, Ontario, and neurosciences drug activity closes in Harlow, England.

February: AstraZeneca plans to cut 8,000 jobs on top of the 15,000 positions targeted for elimination between 2007 and 2009. The company drops 20 compounds from development and ends discovery research in 10 diseases and most vaccines. It will close sites in Leicestershire and Cambridge, England, and Lund, Sweden, and end discovery research in Wilmington, Del.

May: Takeda plans to cut 1,600 jobs from its North American operations, including 20% of staff at its Lake Forest, Ill., R&D center.

SOURCE: Companies



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