More layoffs in pharma

imagesPOST SUMMARY: Amgen said it plans to reduce its global workforce by 12% to 15% and close facilities in two states as part of a restructuring that aims to focus resources on developing new drugs. In an industry where layoffs have become the norm one has to wonder if “the right people” are being let go vs. the pharma lifers who continue to hang on to paychecks.

It’s hard for me to fathom laying off so many people when your CEO is pulling down more than $11 million a year, but then again bad CEO’s are rewarded when they succeed or fail.  I knew a lot of people at Amgen, but slowly over the last few years they have all been driven out of the company as former big pharma retreads take root within the California company and transform it into just another “big pharma” company.


While layoffs have become common practice within the new world of drug companies the greatest fear is that the wrong people are being let go.  Too often it is those who have the brownest noses who are retained while people who put patients first are asked to leave.  I am a realist and understand that cuts have to happen but what happens when the wrong people are retained ?  What happens is that strategically the company suffers.  Many years from now after Amgen’s CEO leaves with tens of millions of dollars the company will, in all likelihood, be bought or merge with another company.

Recently I had a chance to talk about Internet health marketing to a class of MBA students here in Cambridge.  At the end, in a joint discussion, I asked how many were looking for a career within a biotech or pharma company and not one person raised their hand.  That should be a warning to the industry that continues to struggle to the realities of marketing to empowered patients and wired physicians.