Pfizer to fire 2,200, about 20% of sales staff

November 29, 2006|By Bloomberg News

NEW YORK -- Pfizer Inc. will slash 2,200 U.S. sales jobs as the world's largest drugmaker reduces expenses to compensate for revenue lost to cheaper generic pharmaceuticals.

The 20 percent cut in Pfizer's sales staff of 11,000 is an "initial step" growing out of a companywide review of operations announced in October, Pfizer said in a statement yesterday. Pfizer said it would outline additional steps in January.

Members of the U.S. sales staff will be notified next month whether they are among those being fired, said Paul Fitzhenry, a Pfizer spokesman. Pfizer's employment worldwide at the end of last year was 106,000, including 42,000 U.S. workers.

The company has eliminated more than 5,000 positions since early 2005 under an expense-reduction plan started last year, the company said in a third-quarter filing.

And last month, the drugmaker cut its revenue forecast for the next two years. By 2011, analysts project generic competition will cost Pfizer much of the revenue from four of its biggest drugs, including the cholesterol pill Lipitor, which accounted for almost half of 2005 revenue.

Pfizer, which has its headquarters in New York, already had set in motion a plan to cut annual costs by $4 billion between 2005 and 2008. Pfizer expects to save $2.5 billion this year from plant closings and staff reductions, according to the third-quarter filing.

Pfizer said it will maintain "strong support" for products including Lipitor, the pain pill Celebrex and the schizophrenia medicine Geodon, and for new drugs such as the pain treatment Lyrica, the inhaled insulin Exubera, the smoking-cessation drug Chantix and the cancer medication Sutent.

Eli Lilly & Co. announced in late 2005 that it aimed to trim $250 million in costs this year and reduce staff by 6 percent. Last year Merck & Co. began eliminating 7,000 jobs and closing plants to reduce $5 billion in costs by 2010. Bayer AG said this month it would cut more than 800 jobs in the U.S., mostly in research.

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