Pharma Layoffs 2017: Teva, Eli Lilly, Merck & Endo Top the List of Job Cuts

Pharma Layoffs 2017

America’s retail and manufacturing sectors are not the only ones to have witnessed mass layoffs this year. Employees of Big Pharma were likewise hit with mass job cuts. Dominating these pharma layoffs in 2017 have been some of the most established names in the industry including Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK), Eli Lilly and Co (NYSE:LLY), Novartis AG (ADR) (NYSE:NVS), and Endo International plc (NASDAQ:ENDP). However, Teva Pharmaceuticals took the lead in this year’s pharma layoffs with the most job cuts announced.

Overall, most of these major pharma layoffs were rooted in one common cause—that is, competition from generic drugs.

Mass Teva Pharmaceutical Layoffs Lead Pharma Layoffs in 2017

Israeli pharma giant with major operations in the U.S., Teva Pharmaceuticals announced 7,000 job cuts as it shared its plans to close 15 manufacturing sites. The company dropped the bombshell after reporting a very disappointing second quarter.

The drugmaker posted a significant drop in earnings owing to its competitive price wars with generic drugmakers. Teva’s generic drugs face stiff competition within the U.S. The company blames the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to have allowed new drugmakers to flood the market with generics.


Teva announced the major restructuring initiative in an effort to streamline its growing costs. The company employed about 7,500 employees in the U.S. prior to the announcement, most of whom are feared to have been affected by the mass Teva layoffs.

Eli Lilly Layoffs Add to Pharma Layoffs 2017

Barely a month after the mass Teva Pharmaceutical layoffs were announced, drug manufacturing giant Eli Lilly jolted the pharma industry with its mass job cuts and multiple plant closures across the U.S.

Eli Lilly announced last month that it was shedding eight percent of its global workforce of 41,240 employees. The move affected about 3,500 Eli Lilly employees around the world. Nearly 2,500 of these affected employees were located in the U.S. Most of the U.S. job cuts come as a result of a voluntary early-retirement program the company is offering to employees who meet the requirements. The program is slated to be completed by the end of the year.

Again, generics were to blame for the job cuts. The Eli Lilly layoffs came ahead of numerous of the company’s upcoming patent expiration dates. A number of Eli Lilly’s drug patents are going to expire in the coming year, after which the company’s branded drugs will be competing with other generic drugs.

The company preempted the possible revenue pressures it will be facing in the coming days and consequently decided to redirect its resources to finding new avenues of growth. Eli Lilly says the job cuts will help the company save about $500.0 million in annual costs, most of which will be directed towards the research and development of new medicines.

“In addition to the U.S. voluntary early retirement program, the company will determine where it needs to further reduce costs and improve efficiencies,” Mark Taylor, Eli Lilly’s spokesman, told the Indianapolis Business Journal.

“Remaining positions will come from other anticipated workforce reductions, including select site closures outlined on Sept. 7 as well as consolidation of some work to existing shared service centers.”

Merck Layoffs Contribute to More U.S.-Based Pharma Layoffs

The most recent layoffs in the pharma industry took place just earlier this week when the leading pharmaceutical company Merck & Co. announced plans to eliminate jobs at three of its U.S. sales teams. The move affected about 1,800 Merck’s U.S.-based sales representatives.

The company said it was getting rid of the three sales teams and forming one single team out of them, which will be focused on selling the company’s chronic care drugs—a niche untapped by most generic drugmakers.

A company spokesperson said that the Merck layoffs were part of the company’s cost-cutting efforts, which will allow the company to direct the savings towards areas of growth. The spokesperson added that the company would be looking at new areas of “unmet medical need,” which simply translates into meaning areas not catered to by the generics.

Alexion Pharma Layoffs & Novartis Layoffs Affect 950 Employees

While competition from generic drugmakers was a common denominator in most of the pharma layoffs 2017, some major pharma companies also laid off employees citing various other reasons.

Alexion Pharmaceutical, Inc. laid off about 250 employees as it shuttered its manufacturing facility in Smithfield, Rhode Island. The rare-disease drugmaker wound down the production of one of its expensive drugs as it faced slowing demand.

Similarly, Novartis AG (ADR) (NYSE:NVS) layoffs affected another 250 pharma industry employees within the U.S. The job cuts were a part of its ongoing company-wide restructuring efforts.

Novartis layoffs will further extend over the next two years as the company sheds another 450 U.S. jobs during the gradual closure of its generic drug manufacturing plant in Broomfield, Colorado.

“The products that are being discontinued are oral generics that treat a variety of conditions in cardiology, central nervous system, endocrinology, respiratory and pain,” a Novartis spokesman told Reuters.

Endo Layoffs Added Hundreds to Pharma Layoffs in 2017

Hundreds more employed in the pharma industry fell victim to Endo Layoffs through the summer this year as the drugmaker shut down a manufacturing facility that produced its generic drugs. The Dublin, Ireland-based company Endo International plc closed its major manufacturing site in Huntsville, Alabama, cutting about 875 American jobs.

Again, generic drugs were cited as the reason behind Endo layoffs—as declining sales amid cut-throat competition pushed the company to shutter its production facility.

Amgen Layoffs a Result of Organizational Changes

Amgen, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMGN) is set to cut 200 research and development positions by the end of 2017. The Amgen layoffs are coming as the result of organizational changes, reports say.

“Given the dynamic nature of our business and the need to ensure greater flexibility across our organization, we must continue to be increasingly efficient in our operational discipline and invest our resources in a way that ensures our continued scientific leadership,” an Amgen spokesperson told Endpoints News.

“The organizational changes [announced] last week are designed to support those efforts. As always, in making these difficult decisions we are committed to treating our staff with respect and compassion.”

Genentech Layoffs Add 130 More to Pharma Layoffs in 2017

Genentech, Inc. is planning to cut about 130 jobs, or 13% of its workforce, at its Vacaville, California, plant.

The Genentech layoffs are a result of increasing competition in the sector and add one more instance of pharma layoffs in 2017. The cuts are to set in by the end of the year.

A bunch of smaller drugmakers likewise added big drops to the ocean, as they made significant contributions to pharma layoffs 2017. Included amongst these are The Medicines Company, which shed about 85% of its workforce in a restructuring move this week, and Millennium Pharmaceuticals, which laid off about 103 workers as it moved from research to drug development.

All in all, the list of pharma layoffs 2017 seems ever growing with no end in sight.



Novartis to shut U.S. generics plant, cut 450 jobs,” Reuters, October 19, 2017.

Millennium to lay off 100,” Bio-IT World, October 24, 2017.

Medicines Co. shares surge 8% on planned restructuring, layoffs,” MarketWatch, October 25, 2017.

2.3k Eli Lilly employees accept buyouts,” Becker’s Hospital Review, November 7, 2017.

Amgen to lay off 200 research & development workers,” Becker’s Hospital Review, November 6, 2017.

Amgen is shaking up R&D (again), chopping 200 as Genentech targets 130 layoffs,” Endpoints News, November 6, 2017.

Genentech to lay off 13% of workforce at California plant,” Becker’s Hospital Review, November 6, 2017.


Categories: Job Cuts, News