Wyeth to trim 1,200 sales reps

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Wyeth notified about 1,200 sales reps that their jobs will be eliminated as part of its previously announced cost-cutting program.

“These reductions are intended to optimize the size of the selling force and will facilitate achievements of our business goals this year,” Wyeth spokesman Doug Petkus told Dow Jones Newswires.

The affected sales reps make up about 2% of Wyeth's total workforce. Wyeth had 50,527 employees across the globe as of Dec. 31, including 26,082 in the U.S.

The cost-cutting program dubbed “Project Impact,” was first announced in January and calls for elimination of up to 10% of the company's workforce over the next three years.

Wyeth said in published reports that the cuts would include sales and marketing positions related to gastroesophageal reflux disease treatment Protonix (pantoprazole), in light of the new generic competition. In 2007, Teva launched a version of Protonix tablets, then ceased shipment days later after reaching a 30-day standstill agreement with Wyeth, in order to negotiate a settlement.

Wyeth recently won approval from the FDA for antidepressant Pristiq (desvenlafaxine), its planned successor to Effexor (venlafaxine hydrochloride), although analysts expect Pristiq to generate less than half Effexor's $3.8 billion in annual revenue.

In an earlier round of sales-force cuts, Wyeth, in 2005, cut its full-time, U.S. primary care sales force of 2,500 reps by 25% to 30%, while at the same time hired part-time reps for a net reduction of about 15%.

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