Pfizer

     2011

     2012

Employees: 103,700   

Employees: 91,500
Change: -12,200, -13.3%

Revenues: $65.259B    

Revenues: $58.986B

Pfizer ($PFE) started seriously trimming its workforce in 2005 and hasn't stopped. It has reportedly shed 50,000 jobs over those 7 years. The 12,200 jobs cut last year, a 13% contraction, was the most in both number and percent of any of the top 10 pharma companies.

The slimming is all about matching workforce to "future needs of the business," and it has had the intended result. Pfizer far surpassed all of its peers in revenues per employee last year at $644,646. That was 10% more than the next closest, which was Roche ($RHHBY) at $582,295.

Not all of those lost jobs represent people getting pink slips. For example, a chunk of those, 4,500, went to Nestle when it bought Pfizer's nutrition business last year.

Still, Pfizer's job cuts, whether layoffs or selloffs, are the most obvious example of people being marched off a patent cliff. Pfizer had the world's most successful drug, Lipitor, and so it and its employees had the most to lose when Lipitor succumbed to generic competition in late 2011. The cholesterol-lowering drug last year lost 59% of its worldwide sales, 81% in the U.S. Sales plummeted from $9.6 billion in 2011 to $3.9 billion last year, and the losses accelerated through the fourth quarter. Lost Lipitor sales accounted for most of Pfizer's $6.3 billion drop in revenue last year, a 10% decline for the company.

The restructuring has positioned Pfizer well going forward, and there are bright spots in Pfizer's future. It has blockbusters like its pain drug Lyrica and its pneumococcal vaccine Prevnar/Prevenar 13 to rely on. And Pfizer landed 5 new drug approvals in 2012--with the anticoagulant and potential blockbuster Eliquis among them. It also has some promising drugs in the pipeline.

Pfizer's plan was to be done with its workforce restructuring by this year, and it has announced some hiring. The jobs it has publicly said it is adding, however, are in China, one of the emerging markets from which Pfizer expects to extract much of its growth. It has a joint venture with Zhejiang Hisun Pharmaceutical to develop generic drugs. The two were in a rush to hire 600 new employees by the end of last year, more than doubling that operation's size to 1,000. Plans are to double again this year by adding another 1,500.

For more:
Special Report: Pfizer - Top 10 Pharma Layoffs of 2012

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