Word spread early this week that Sanofi-Aventis laid off 400 employees this past weekend.
Sanofi-Aventis announced last year that it was eliminating around 1,200 jobs due to the coming patent expiration of drugs such as Plavix and Avapro. Around 750 sales positions were cut in the general and specialized therapeutics business units as well as the oncology division, during the Thanksgiving holiday season.
A Sanofi representative could not be reached for comment by deadline, but spokesperson Jack Cox had this to say last December: "These hard decisions were necessitated by shifting customer needs, the diminishing effectiveness of traditional marketing practices, and, in particular, generic competition to some of our key brands,” Cox said. “While sales professionals and managers will remain integral to our business, we're creating an organization that more appropriately reflects our product portfolio and the realities of the market."
According to BNet Pharma, this year’s layoffs are being attributed to the generic competition with Ambien CR, a once-blockbuster in the sleep category. Low sales of the antidepressant Aplenzin are also hurting the company.
In related news, Warner Chilcott announced that it had amended its global collaboration deal with Sanofi-Aventis. The agreement now gives Warner full control of the marketing and R&D decisions regarding Actonel in the US and Puerto Rico. The two companies used to split the costs, but now Warner Chilcott will pay SA a percentage of the net sales.
Tying things back to the 400 former sales personnel—WarnerChilcott stated that Warner Chilcott would retain a portion of the Actonel sales force.
"The amendment to the collaboration agreement will enable Warner Chilcott to assume full control over the promotion and marketing of the Actonel brand in the United States," stated Roger Boissonneault, president and CEO of Warner Chilcott. "This will allow us improved flexibility to adjust our promotional plans in the US as we prepare for the potential launch of the next generation Actonel product."