Citing an 'ever-changing' market, Sanofi to lay off 400 in U.S. sales

Sanofi's already-hit U.S. diabetes and cardiovascular sales team is set for another round of layoffs. Moving to cope with a changing market, the drugmaker is eliminating 400 workers in the U.S., a spokesperson confirmed. 

Sanofi didn't disclose restructuring expenses or a savings target. The company stressed there won't be any disruption to its cardiovascular specialty sales team, which sells PCSK9 cholesterol drug Praluent. 

The reorganization will "enable us to continue to adapt to the ever-changing market, and allow us to focus on our recent launches while setting us up for success in the future," Sanofi spokesperson Ashleigh Koss said via email.

Along with diabetes drugmakers Eli Lilly and Novo Nordisk, the French pharma giant has been suffering from U.S. payer pressure for years; each company has had to restructure to adapt. Lilly last year announced a round of 3,500 job cuts and before that Novo chopped 1,000 positions in 2016. Merck, another top diabetes player, cut 1,800 sales staffers back in October.

This isn't Sanofi's first round of cuts under CEO Olivier Brandicourt. In December 2016, the company announced a plan to cut 20% of its U.S. diabetes sales force, equating to hundreds of jobs. Earlier in February 2016, the company eliminated 500 positions in France.

Sanofi led all of pharma in layoffs back in 2016, a year in which it cut its global staff by 8%, according to a report from EP Vantage.

In addition to the competitive pressures in diabetes, Sanofi's PCSK9 drug Praluent isn't living up to commercial expectations due to payer restrictions following its 2015 approval. On the other side of the coin, launches for rheumatoid arthritis medication Kevzara and atopic dermatitis treatment Dupixent are progressing well, executives said this month at the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference. 

Even still, Koss said, Sanofi remains committed in the diabetes and cardiovascular disease areas.

"These changes will help us successfully execute our business strategy in 2018 and beyond, and to continue to make a difference with customers and patients," she added. 

Sanofi's separation packages include cash, continued health benefits and career transition services. Koss added that employees in good standing can apply for new positions within the company.