Welcome to our second annual report on the top five layoffs of the year. Companies like Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Bayer posted the biggest numbers in 2007. In 2008, patent expirations, drug safety problems and a general need to become leaner and meaner put Merck, Schering-Plough, Wyeth, UCB and AstraZeneca at the top of this list.
A drop in Vytorin sales, along with other factors, helped Merck and Schering-Plough find their way into this report. Wyeth, UCB and Abbott's restructuring efforts figured prominently into their cutbacks. But most drug developers--including the ones that weren't in the top five--cut at least some of their sales forces. That's in line with Big Pharma's overall trend of spending less on sales budgets.
Yet for every Big Pharma layoff, there seemd to be five small companies cutting a portion of their workers. An inhospitable funding environment made it difficult for many smaller companies to raise capital, and they were forced to cut jobs and non-essential programs in order to stretch their cash. These smaller cuts didn't make it into our top five but you can see a full list of this year's layoffs here. And here is the list of the top 5 layoffs of 2008:
1. Merck - 8,400 jobs
2. Schering-Plough - 5,500 jobs
3. Wyeth - 5,000 jobs
4. UCB Pharma - 2000 jobs
5. AstraZeneca - 1,400 jobs*
6. Abbott - 1,000 jobs
*This job cut announcement occurred after the date this report was originally published. AstraZeneca made its announcement on November 20, 2008.