GSK cuts 700 sales and marketing jobs

Well, the rumors you've been hearing have been confirmed: GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE: GSK) has been slimming down its staff roster. This week, the company told the Wall Street Journal that 700-odd sales and marketing staff members have accepted buyout offers in recent months, while other sales and marketing positions have been eliminated.

Although the cuts are nowhere as deep as the record 1,800 employee reduction in late 2008, they're still part of a larger trend forcing pharmas to restructure. In GSK's case, the restructuring involves shifting staffers to new markets like China, Brazil and Russia, where revenues are growing rapidly. And just today, the company announced it is stepping up its drive into emerging markets with the acquisition of Argentina's Laboratorios Phoenix for $253 million.

"This is an important step forward in our strategy to grow our business in Latin America; a key group of emerging markets for GSK. By acquiring Phoenix, we will rapidly expand our presence in the fast growing Argentine market. In addition, Phoenix's broad portfolio and rich pipeline of branded generics will enable us to bring more medicines of value to patients in Argentina," says Abbas Hussain, president Emerging Markets GSK, in a statement.

Also, it was reported Wednesday that the company is laying off 19 employees at its production plant in Hamilton, Montana. The plant is the only place in the world that makes MPL--a key component to GSK's cervical cancer vaccine, the Missoulian reports. Michael Covarrubias, the plant's site director, said the company plans to shut down production of MPL through the end of the year in an effort to reduce inventory. "We plan to take a pause for about six months," Covarrubias said. "We will be wrapping up production through the end of the year."

- read the Phoenix release
- read this Wall Street Journal Health Blog item
- get more about the Laboratorios Phoenix acquisition
- check out the Missoulian's coverage