Pfizer reps to bear brunt of Canadian layoffs

More job cuts at Pfizer ($PFE). The world's biggest drugmaker is shedding 300 from its Canadian workforce, or about 11% of its employees in the country. Hardest hit will be sales and marketing, particularly in primary care.

The company has been restructuring worldwide over the past several years, for several reasons: It's been slimming down to cope with the patent cliff, and consolidating its own operations with Wyeth's, in the wake of their 2009 merger.

Pfizer also has been streamlining its sales force, not only because of generic competition, but because of the new less-is-more culture in drug detailing. It's a trend that's swept the industry--and spawned many thousands of sales layoffs. It's been a major turnabout at Pfizer, which was famous for its enormous armies of pavement-pounding reps.

The Canadian cuts reflect those marketing trends, Spokeswoman Rhonda O'Gallagher told the Globe & Mail. "We have been forced to adjust our sales force to reflect the changes the pharmaceutical industry is undergoing, namely the loss of patent protection on bestselling drugs," O'Gallagher said.

Of course, the biggest patent loss--for the industry and for Pfizer itself--happened almost a year ago, when the megablockbuster cholesterol pill Lipitor lost exclusivity. Besides cutting jobs at various facilities around the world, Pfizer has also been hiving off entire business units to focus its efforts on drugs, on-patent and otherwise.

- read the Globe & Mail piece

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