Sanofi makes cuts to field force, consolidates functions

Sanofi will winnow its field force down through a “voluntary separation program” and relocation of some reps, said a spokesperson following news of more layoffs at the company.

The company announced further reductions to its US sales force and consolidation of several functions following its $20.1 billion acquisition of Genzyme, announced in February. The cuts will fall heavily on the company's cardiovascular and oncology sales forces due to the genericization of Avapro, Lovenox and Taxotere and the loss of patent protection for Plavix. Sanofi has been cutting sales positions for several years as part of a €2 billion cost-cutting exercise, and says it will slash €2 billion more by the end of 2015. By the end of the year, according to company projections, Sanofi's US sales force will be about 4,500—less than half of what it was in 2008.

But the cuts are not limited to sales. Cambridge-based Genzyme will absorb most of Sanofi's US R&D operations as part of the reorg, and R&D headcount has declined by around 3,000 since 2008 as Sanofi has sought growth in external opportunities—buying 23 companies, including Genzyme; and entering two joint ventures and 61 in-licensing agreements since January 2009. It's all part of CEO Chris Vieh­bacher's plan to steer the firm away from chemical therapies and towards biologics, which are less exposed to patent perils.

“Our objective,” Viehbacher told investors in September, “wasn't just to replace what we were going to lose from generic competition to big blockbusters like Plavix, etc. But it was really to put our company on a path to growth that didn't completely depend on R&D, that didn't completely depend on patents.”
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