Overhauling U.S. pharma biz, Novartis lays off 250

More change is afoot at Novartis. After shuffling global management earlier this year, the company is rearranging its U.S. pharmaceuticals business. The overhaul will include some 250 layoffs. By the end of the week, the drugmaker will have a new U.S. pharma chief to replace Ludwig Hantson, who's leaving the company.

According to a letter from Novartis' global drugs chief David Epstein, as of May 1, the U.S. ops will have four divisions rather than five. One big primary-care unit will account for more than half of the U.S. business, while the rest--specialty drugs--will be divided into three business units. The heads of each of these four units will report directly to Hantson's replacement as head of North American pharma.

Though 383 positions will go in the changeover, only 250 workers will be shown the door because the company has been leaving many vacant positions unfilled. Most of the laid-off employees were to be notified Wednesday, Epstein's letter states, and executives were set to speak with workers at a town-hall meeting today. One bright spot: The company will be hiring some 150 folks to expand its multiple sclerosis sales force.

We don't have to remind you that the drug business is full of similar restructurings/downsizings these days. Big Pharma has been retrenching and retooling to prepare for the loss of patent protection for many of its blockbuster drugs and the generic competition that is sure to follow.

- read Epstein's letter at the IN VIVO Blog
- get more from Medical Marketing & Media