Pfizer, Merck make list of 'Layoff Kings'

Pharma scores twice in the 24/7 Wall Street list of "The Layoff Kings," the 25 companies responsible for 700,000 lost jobs. But it maintains a relatively low profile compared with General Motors and CitiGroup, the leaders of the pack.

Pulling up in seventh place is Pfizer, which the analysis says has cut 31,771 jobs since the recession "officially" began in December 2007. Close on its heels, in the eighth spot: Merck, at 24,400.

The article cites lost patent protection losses, of course, as a major cause for the combined 56,171 losses. But the mega-mergers of Pfizer with Wyeth, and of Merck with Schering-Plough, have yielded redundancies in both people and facilities.

The pharma industry has eliminated 35,000 positions through June of this year, according to outplacement consultancy and chief victims counter Challenger, Gray and Christmas. The consultancy provided the data for the current 24/7 Wall Street analysis. And it sourced data for our 2009 top layoffs list, which tallied 58,696 pharma and biotech jobs. Pfizer is at the top of that list, followed by Merck.

Recent layoffs, like those reported last month at Merck and Eli Lilly, have had a decidedly manufacturing/operations emphasis. That's in contrast to earlier layoffs, which were more heavily weighted toward sales, marketing and then R&D.

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