Every pharma-watcher knows that layoffs have been a near-constant shadow over the industry for years. But thanks to Challenger, Gray & Christmas, we can now measure that shadow: Pharma firms have cut 297,650 jobs since 2000, the consulting firm figures. As Forbes points out, that's about the combined head count at Big Pharma's three largest drugmakers, Pfizer, Merck and GlaxoSmithKline.
Forbes also points out that, despite the layoffs, the industry's total employment count hasn't fallen dramatically. Some of the laid-off workers probably found work within the industry, and some were probably laid off more than once.
But as the figures show, the number of layoffs per year has grown steadily since 2006, as drugmakers have restructured and refocused to prepare for the patent cliff. And with that patent cliff comes a sea change, as most of the blockbuster business goes out with the tide, and expensive drugs for targeted groups of patients come in.