Shionogi cutting 350 reps as Biovail boosts layoffs

We've got news for those of you keeping tabs on pharma layoffs. Not only have Valeant and Biovail announced that their planned post-merger job cuts will amount to 25 percent of the combined workforce--or 1,100 jobs, compared with previous predictions of 600 to 800. Another merged company is also shedding hundreds of workers.

That's Shionogi, the Japanese drugmaker that bought Sciele Pharma back in 2008. Two years later, after a couple of rounds of previous cuts, the company is suffering from generic competition for some key drugs. Scrip reports that the declining sales prompted Shionogi management to slash its U.S. sales force in half. When the layoffs are complete, Shionogi will have only about 350 in-house reps, compared with 700 before the cuts.

Meanwhile, investors are cheering Biovail and Valeant's announcement that layoffs will hit harder than previously expected. They're called "synergies," of course, and lead to lower costs, so you can hardly blame Biovail shareholders for bidding up the stock. Employees, however, won't be so happy. There's no word on just where the cuts will hit, although Biovail and Valeant execs both promised to make their R&D more efficient.

- see the Scrip story
- get more from the Canadian Press
- check out the Globe and Mail coverage