The cuts follow an extraordinary number of setbacks - the FDA issued strict warnings on Aranesp and Epogen. Congress is investigating the marketing and safety of the drugs. The Securities and Exchange Commission is probing a failure to tell Wall Street that a key clinical trial ended over safety concerns, which only became known after an industry newsletter published the details. Worst of all, Medicare reduced reimbursement for the drugs. Oh yes, Amgen is postponing a $1 billion plant in Ireland. Until last month, though, ceo Kevin Sharer refused to acknowledge he faced a crisis.
Amgen spokesman David Polk says about 700 employees are taking voluntary buyouts, and eligibility was based on age and years with the company, but he claims the plan is fairly generous. But after tallying the number of buyouts and accounting for a hiring freeze and attrition, Amgen realized it needed to cut 1,500 more jobs. Of those, about 45 percent are in Thousand Oaks, which comes to about 675 employees. There was no word on how many people agreeing to buyouts work in Thousands Oaks or whether Sharer will see his bonus reduced this year.
Meanwhile, at the nearby Alamo Mexican Grill & Cantina, a popular spot among Amgen employees, two Amgen employees eating lunch yesterday described the mood at the biotech company as "quiet..I think everyone is concerned about their co-workers," one of them said. The workers declined to give their names or say what department they worked in, saying it was "too dangerous." Asked whether they were concerned about losing their jobs, one figured her department was secure, but the other quickly chimed in: "But you never know. That could change tomorrow."
Hat tip to PharmaGossip