Expect more pharma M&A, less pharma hiring

If you're a pharma M&A junkie, then the next couple of years should make you happy. Unfortunately, the news isn't as good for those seeking a job in the drug industry. That's the message from a new KPMG survey of 100 pharma executives, many of whom expect difficult times ahead.

Some 83% of top pharma officials say they expect their companies to either buy or be bought over the next two years. Cash-rich drugmakers will continue their quest to restock pipelines and fill revenue gaps created by new generic competition. In addition, they're looking to further their geographic expansion by investing in deals or organic expansion into more emerging markets.

But all that emphasis on deals and expansion is defensive. Pharma executives still expect the business to be tough over the next several years, with the most optimistic 30% seeing economic recovery by the end of 2012 and the least-optimistic 27% predicting recovery by the end of 2014. "The good news is companies have cash to invest in or acquire new medicine breakthroughs, or markets and customers to drive some growth," KPMG partner David Blumberg said in a statement. In other words, in this economy, expect to buy growth, not fuel it from within.

No wonder, then, that the hiring picture looks pretty bleak. Only 41% of the executives said they'd be adding to their payrolls in 2012. Even more frightening: Almost one-quarter expect hiring to "never...return to pre-recession levels."

- read the KPMG release
- get more from the Philadelphia Inquirer
- see the coverage from PharmaExec