Sanofi-Aventis is laying off 750, or nearly 12%, of its US sales reps, as the firm retrenches in the face of generic exposure on some of its lead products.

A spokesperson told MM&M that the firm has notified reps in the General and Specialized Therapeutics business units about the layoffs, but contacting those in the Oncology division could take until mid-month. Sanofi-Aventis has about 6,500 reps in its overall US sales organization.

“These hard decisions were necessitated by shifting customer needs, the diminishing effectiveness of traditional marketing practices and, in particular, generic competition to some of our key brands,” the spokesperson said. “While sales professionals and managers will remain integral to our business, we’re creating an organization that more appropriately reflects our product portfolio and the realities of the market.”

The firm has begun facing generic competition in the US for cancer drug Eloxatin and in some parts of Europe for anti-platelet drug Plavix. Generic versions of Lovenox have yet to launch, but companies like Momenta, Teva and Amphastar are seeking to launch copies of the anti-clotting product.

After new CEO Chris Viehbacher took the helm last December, Sanofi-Aventis announced it would cut 10% or less of its US reps.

Many of the reps being called this month are eligible to apply for existing openings, and employees who are ultimately displaced will be eligible for a separation package, he said, adding, “The company remains committed to ensuring that these employees are treated with respect and are well supported during the transition.”