Kiss more pharma jobs goodbye: Pierre Fabre to cut 550 in sales, R&D

Pierre Fabre hasn't had an easy time in the drug business lately. Its R&D operations have been less than productive, executives say, and sales in its home country have suffered from price cuts.

So, it's scaling back in pharma to narrow its R&D focus, build up in consumer healthcare and spend more resources on its cosmetics and dermatology businesses. The upshot? Pierre Fabre will shrink its pharma payroll by 551 jobs by 2016. The cuts will mainly affect its French operations, with sales and R&D both in the target zone.

The larger cuts will come in R&D, which will lose 272 jobs, 255 in France, the company said in a statement. Another 279 or so will hit on the sales side. The rest will come from an R&D site in Barcelona that's slated for closure.

The job cuts aren't likely to be popular in France, where Sanofi ($SNY) ran into trouble with its own restructuring. Nor are the company's comments about its R&D operations in the country, which it called "insufficiently productive." That, too, echoes Sanofi, whose now-former CEO Chris Viehbacher cited the same reason for his French job-cutting plans in R&D.

Pierre Fabre is far from the only drugmaker cutting jobs and paring away lackluster businesses--not to mention scaling back in France. Novartis ($NVS) just cut 200 people from its New Jersey payroll in a sales-force shift, and it's cutting other jobs around the world as it consolidates back-office operations. The Swiss drugmaker is also in the midst of a wholesale strategic shift, selling its animal health business to Eli Lilly ($LLY) and swapping its vaccine business to GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) for GSK's oncology operations. GSK announced job cuts last week as well.

Bristol-Myers Squibb ($BMY) also said last week it would hack 1,000 from its Chinese payroll. And Merck ($MRK) is cutting costs--as well as jobs--as it narrows its focus; the U.S.-based drugmaker recently sold its consumer business to Bayer.

- read the statement from Pierre Fabre (in French)

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