Pharma remains heartburn HQ as 44% fear job loss

Big Pharma employees are worried. According to a new survey from PharmaIQ, some 44% of pharma staffers are anxious they'll lose their jobs. That's probably a sane response, given that drugmakers have laid off thousands over the past several years, with additional layoff announcements coming every week or two.

Plus, many of the recent job cuts have been laid at the foot of generic competition--no big sales forces necessary to sell drugs that have or soon will lose patent protection, for instance--and there are plenty of branded drugs still to fall off the patent cliff. Medical Marketing & Media cites AstraZeneca's ($AZN) move to call-center support for Nexium, its aging acid-reflux drug. With 24% of the company's workforce slated to be cut, the call-center approach is expected to spread.

Overall, about half of the surveyed pharma execs said they're expecting staffing levels to stay the same for now. Almost 32%, however, expect their departments to lose employees. Only 18.9% expect their staffs to grow in the near term.

Meanwhile, the folks left behind after jobs are cut certainly aren't making it any easier to argue that additional layoffs aren't the answer. As MM&M points out, some 60% of employees working in departments that have faced the ax say their groups are doing the same amount of work these days--but with fewer people. Call it the curse of productivity.

- read the MM&M piece

Special Report: Top 10 pharma layoffs of 2011

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