Japanese pharmaceutical firm sheds 2800 jobs in the US and Europe after recent takeover of Nycomed

Japanese pharmaceutical company Takeda has announced it is to cut 2800 jobs in the US and Europe. This represents about 10% of its workforce, and the cuts will be made in research, commercial and admin sections of the business.  

This latest blow for the pharma sector is the expected fall-out from last year’s acquisition of Nycomed. The company hopes to save about ?200 billion (?1.7 billion) by taking these measures, claiming they will ’better align its global workforce and consolidate site operations’.  

"Industry is reshaping itself to become more lean and mean in its operations" - Fintan Walton, PharmaVentures

Takeda’s biggest selling drug, Actos (pioglitazone), is set to lose US patent protection in August, which will also leave a hole in its balance sheet - in 2010, global sales for the drug amounted to $4.3 billion (?2.8 billion).  

’While our combined operations in more than 70 countries are more complementary than overlapping, there are a number of areas where we will need to make changes to ensure efficient and flexible operations moving forward,’ said chief executive Yasuchika Hasegawa.  

The company plans to consolidate its R&D sites, with a focus on a number of core therapeutic areas, shifting the product portfolio towards a diverse collection of new products, and away from its traditional reliance on more mature, high-volume products. Much of the impact will be in Europe, where 2100 of the jobs will be lost, more than half of them in Germany.  

According to Fintan Walton, chief executive of PharmaVentures, Takeda has been bold in its acquisition strategy in the past few years, and is a step or two ahead of its Japanese rivals. ’It has taken on and integrated non-Japanese businesses,’ he says. ’They have obviously looked at all their operations and duplication within them, and are cutting the workforce and closing down facilities as part of this.’ 

Although the company is using the Nycomed acquisition as the rationale for the cuts, Walton says that, in fact, legacy Takeda jobs are also going. ’Nycomed had no business operations in the US, just products that were marketed in the US by other companies,’ he says. ’Both Nycomed and Takeda employees are affected in Europe.’ 

The pharma industry continues to have a torrid time, and Takeda is merely the latest company to shed employees. In the past six months alone, Amgen, AstraZeneca, Merck, Novartis, Sanofi and Teva have all announced redundancies. When added to the latest Takeda cuts, the pharma industry has shed around 20,000 jobs in a very short space of time. 

Walton adds that this is yet another example of the ongoing trend for consolidation within the industry. ’When a company merges or acquires another, there is no surprise that after a period of time there will be some sort of rationalisation as a direct result of the acquisition,’ he says. ’There is also a second element to this - the increasing trend within the industry to externalise both R&D and manufacturing. The industry is reshaping itself to become more efficient, as the pressures the sector is now facing mean companies have to become more lean and mean in their operations.’ 

Sarah Houlton