Layoffs return with Abbott's 3,000 job cuts

Pharma layoffs may have taken a summer break, but they're back now with a vengeance. On the heels of Roche's restructuring announcement, Abbott Laboratories says it plans to cut 3,000 jobs as it integrates Belgium's Solvay Pharmaceuticals, which it bought earlier this year. Fortunately for Abbott's legacy operations--and unfortunately for those at Solvay--the planned cutbacks will hit hardest at that company's operations in Europe.

It's three percent of Abbott's workforce, and as the Wall Street Journal notes, among the largest layoffs in company history. But if the size of the cuts surprises anyone, the fact that they're coming shouldn't. After all, the company did say it anticipated cost savings in the wake of its $6.2 billion Solvay buyout. "The restructuring will streamline our operations and improve efficiencies across the pharma business as we said we'd look to do at the time we announced the acquisition," Abbott spokeswoman Melissa Brotz told the WSJ.

Plus, job cuts have followed most recent pharma mergers, including Pfizer and Wyeth (some 20,000) and Merck and Schering-Plough (16,000). Roche is the most recent example; it's on a cost-cutting drive now, after buying Genentech last year.

Solvay's Marietta, Georgia, headquarters will be closed. Operations in Hannover, Germany, will lose 300 jobs and others in Weesp, Netherlands, will cut 500; those sites will remain open, PharmaTimes reports. The company expects to take charges of up to $970 million over the next two years as it cuts jobs and other costs; it also expects one-time costs of $210 million in Solvay-integration expenses.

- see the WSJ story
- get more from the Chicago Sun-Times
- read the PharmaTimes article
- check out the Reuters coverage