Abbott Laboratories

     2011

     2012

Employees: 91,000

Employees: 91,000
Change: 0, 0%

Revenues: $38.851B

Revenues: $39.874B

Four of the 10 drugmakers in this report saw their workforce grow last year, while 5 went negative, but Abbott Laboratories ($ABT) reported nothing changed over the course of a year. It had exactly the same size workforce on New Year's eve 2012 that it did the year before. A day later, well, then 21,000 of those people became employees of a new company, AbbVie ($ABBV), the spinoff of Abbott's drug innovation business.

AbbVie recently announced it will lay off hundreds of those employees as it prepares for generic competition to cardiovascular drugs TriCor, TriLipix and Niaspan. Unless AbbVie were to make some large acquisition, it will end the year among the smaller drug companies in terms of employment. Bill Chase, CFO of the new drug company, has already said betting big on M&A is not in the cards. "We are not really in a situation where we need to go and do a big deal," Chase said at a press conference shortly after AbbVie assumed its independence. "It doesn't seem to us to be a prudent way to use our cash."

So AbbVie is on its own in the world and essentially living off one product, anti-inflammatory biologic drug Humira. If you have only one drug, Humira is the drug to have. It is now the world's best-selling medication and is expected to hit $10 billion in sales this year. It won't be king of the hill for long, however; it goes off patent in 2016. While biosimilars are not expected to vaporize sales like small-molecule generics do when they hit the market, any loss of revenue is a concern given that Humira provides about half of AbbVie's revenues.

For more:
AbbVie CFO sees no need for big acquisition
AbbVie CEO lauds Humira in first earnings guidance

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