J&J warns sales reps of impending cuts

Sales layoffs are on the horizon at Johnson & Johnson as generic versions of the blockbuster ADHD drug Concerta near market. The company has warned the sales force for that drug to prepare for job cuts, Dow Jones reports. During a conference call last month, a J&J exec told reps to work on their resumes and start looking for other jobs.

Patent coverage on the $1.3 billion drug went by the wayside with a court ruling in April, and generic makers Impax Laboratories and Watson Pharmaceuticals are hovering. Watson, for one, hopes to start selling its version next year, the news service says. But until FDA actually gives the thumbs up to either company, they're stuck in waiting mode.

Meanwhile, J&J is preparing for the worst. A spokeswoman tells Dow Jones, "Like everyone else, we are watching very closely to see when there may be a more definitive development on Concerta." She wouldn't offer details about planned sales-force cuts.

Big Pharma companies have been laying off sales reps by the hundreds over the past several years as they revamp their sales models and scale back marketing of newly-off-patent meds. Some companies are redeploying reps to target payers rather than individual doctors. It's a rare drugmaker that hasn't streamlined doc-detailing to make sure it's not sending multiple sales people to the same offices. Even more rare: A company that hasn't sent reps packing when a drug--such as Concerta--loses patent protection, and all the revenues that go with it.

- read the Dow Jones story