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Sanofi to cut 900 jobs in France

Published on 26/09/12 at 09:29am

Sanofi is to cut 900 jobs in its French operations by 2015 – fewer than expected after widespread speculation this summer that 2,500 posts could be chopped.

However the future of its Toulouse research facility, which has around 600 staff, is up in the air with Sanofi saying its function “remains to be specified” – although the manufacturer insists that the number of its sites in France will remain the same.

Restructuring is necessary to establish “new momentum” in R&D, which is vital to ensure sustainability, Sanofi insisted. Last year it warned it might have to axe around 3,000 research jobs in the wake of its takeover of US biotech Genzyme.

While the cuts now appear smaller than that, they still affect a significant proportion of Sanofi’s workforce: the company currently has 28,000 people in France - around a quarter of its global employees.

Consultation on the job cuts, which the company says will be achieved “mainly” through voluntary arrangements which will include early retirements, starts next month.

Restructuring has been a recurring theme of global pharma operations in the last few years with Merck KGaA announcing job losses in Germany and Switzerland recently. 

Sanofi itself has already shed 4,000 jobs between 2009 and 2011: before this latest announcement it aimed to shave €2 billion from costs by 2015 while increasing earnings by 5% a year.

The French group has taken some recent hits: first Plavix, the heart drug it markets with Bristol-Myers Squibb, lost its patent protection, and earlier this year Sanofi withdrew marketing applications worldwide for new drug Mulsevo after negative opinions on its benefit/risk balance.

Designed to stop blood clots in cancer patients receiving chemotherapy for locally-advanced or metastatic solid tumours, Mulsevo had been forecast achieve annual sales of $295 million. 

Sanofi says its new measures will change operations in the following ways:

  • Vitry/Alfortville, Chilly-Mazarin/Longjumeau and Lyon will continue their development role although research activities would be increased at the first two sites
  • A global centre of excellence in infectious diseases is to be created in Lyon
  • Montpellier will increasingly be focused on development
  • Strasbourg will remain as a collaborative platform open to academic research and biotechs
  • Toulouse’s function in the new operation remains unknown, although a working party has been formed to come up with “concrete solutions” for the site

Sanofi is also looking for efficiencies across the supply chain, looking to improve the economic performance of Sanofi Pasteur’s industrial units in vaccine markets, while streamlining support functions.

Adam Hill


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