Sanofi-Aventis to Trim Sales Force

June 11, 2008

Pharmaceutical Executive

Pharmaceutical Executive, Pharmaceutical Executive-06-11-2008, Volume 0, Issue 0

French drugmaker to cut 800 jobs, joining the long list of companies restructuring to make ends meet.

Sanofi-Aventis announced last week that it is trimming its sales force in light of a thinning pipeline. The firm told the French press that it would shed nearly 800 sales positions, up from approximately 600 positions originally reported.

The move echoes recent restructuring plans by Merck, Johnson & Johnson, and Novartis. Two weeks ago, Right Management reported that 73 percent of out-of-work sales reps were finding new jobs at the same pay level or higher. For the other 27 percent, however, the outlook might not be hopeful.

"I don't think there's any chance of a significant bounce-back in hiring or rehiring of sales reps for major pharma companies," said Kevin Butler of executive search firm Heritage Partners International to Pharm Exec.

"[This situation] is something that should have been initiated seven or more years ago, and for all the right reasons. Pharma companies delayed in hopes of new pipelines. Now in order to meet numbers and deliver for The Street, they are going to have to cut deep. This could well be the beginning of deeper cuts across major pharmas."

Layoffs like those at Sanofi might not be the death knell for all reps. According to Butler, good reps in specialized fields are finding jobs as salespeople in specialty pharma companies. Others might want to consider selling in a different industry.

"I am advising anyone coming out college to not go into pharma," Butler said.

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