Thursday, January 29, 2009

Pharma's Workforce Being Double Decimated!

First, I heard that Pfizer would cut jobs in two waves in 2009. In the first, Pfizer said it would cut 10% of its 81,900 staff - about 8,000 jobs. If the second cut is also 10%, that would be about a 20% cut overall.

Now I also hear that AstraZeneca and Sepracor are also planning to cut about 20% of their workforces (see here).

Can this be called the decimation of pharma's workforce?

The literal definition of decimate is "cut by 10%." 10% here, 10% there, pretty soon we’re talking workforce “annihilation,” which is the “popular” definition of decimate! Since I am a proponent of the literal definition (see here as it applies to DTC spending in 2009), I call this workforce reduction “double decimated,” meaning cut by 10% two times!

Whether you believe in the literal definition of “decimated” or the “popular” one, you’re going to see a lot of people out there looking for a life after pharma.

The last time I saw this happen, most of the laid off people ended up in jobs that depended upon the pharmaceutical industry. That is, they became pharmaceutical marketing consultants or found jobs with pharma vendor or service provider companies.

This time, however, I don’t think those companies will be hiring. They’ll also be Pfiring, just like Big Pharma. Life after pharma may not be anything like it was before.


  1. Anonymous11:12 AM


    Great post ! The loss of people is going to hurt the pharma industry because there is a wealth of experience that will be gone forever. The failure of senior executives to plan for the aging blockbusters and the continued hiring has been a major factor in the demise the pharma business model.

    The pharma industry is also going to find out that it will not be able to attract new talent when business picks up. The industry reputation is now part of the branding experience and people are going to avoid it as much as possible.

    Remember behind everyone of these stats is a family that could be losing it's livelihood

  2. Anonymous8:58 AM

    Yes, the story may be repeated once again and the experts will migrate from the SOVIET union!


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