2,500 Sanofi jobs may be marched off patent cliff

Several thousand more pharma employees may be marched over the patent cliff as Sanofi ($SNY) confirms that big cuts are coming to its Toulouse site in France. That's where it developed its blockbuster blood thinner Plavix, which is falling under the patent loss ax.

Sanofi is making the same kinds of deep cuts that many other drugmakers are as some of their best-selling drugs lose patent protection. But the sting is always worse when the reductions come on the home turf.

Between cuts at Toulouse and at its Montpellier research site, there may be as many as 2,500 positions lost in France, Bloomberg reports, and that is on top of the 4,000 jobs eliminated in its homeland in the last three years. Executives delivered the news to some of the workers at Toulouse on Thursday.

None of this should be a huge surprise. The Paris-based company said earlier this year that with the loss of its U.S. patents on Plavix and its blood pressure med Avapro, its bottom line in 2012 could be trimmed by $1.71 billion, The Wall Street Journal points out.

But even with those kinds of numbers, the bitter news did not go down well with officials in France. Bloomberg, citing the French newspaper Le Nouvel Observateur, quotes French Productive Recovery Minister Arnaud Montebourg telling senators: "Sanofi showed up at the ministry to tell us they were planning several thousand job cuts. Couldn't you have said that earlier on? Last year you made €5 billion ($6.1 billion) in profits."  

- here is the Bloomberg story
- get more from The Wall Street Journal