Italian drug cuts threaten thousands of jobs, industry says

Pharma leaders are fighting big cuts on another European front: Italy. The industry association Farmaindustria, along with key labor unions, say drugmakers may slash thousands of jobs in the country, if the government goes ahead with planned cutbacks.

It's just the latest fight over drug-spending reductions in Europe. As the euro crisis has spread, so has the cost-cutting trend. Troubled countries such as Greece and Spain have not only held off paying their drug bills; they've instituted new policies to favor cheap generics and cut overall drug budgets. Even Europe's fiscally healthiest are pulling in on the reins, with Germany and France among those shrinking their drug budgets.

The spending strictures have been a drag on pharma's European sales, and promise to continue weighing drugmakers down. One pharma executive after another has warned of their effects on sales and profits. Over the weekend, it was Boehringer Ingelheim's CEO.

Now, add Farmindustria and the FILCTEM-CGIL union to the chorus. "The consequences for companies are clear: disinvestment, delocalization and a worsening of crises and restructurings," the industry group and union said in an open letter to Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti (as quoted by Bloomberg). They're asking Monti to soften the blow on pharma spending before a package of cuts passes parliament.

- read the Bloomberg piece