Beset by thinning pipelines, patent expirations and pricing pressures, the pharmaceutical industry has shed tens of thousands of jobs over the past several years. And given rising costs and strategic challenges, it is hardly surprising that the surviving employees are anxious about their jobs. A new poll shows that 44 percent worry they may become 'redundant' over the next 12 months.
The poll was conducted late last year, before the latest round of industry layoffs, by the way. Since then, Challenger Gray & Christmas noted that 4,071 pharma jobs were eliminated in January in the US alone, the third-highest industry tally, behind retailing and the financial sector (look here). This did not count, for instance, thousands more planned job cuts announced by AstraZeneca (see this).
Asked if they expect staffing levels to increase, decrease or stay the same over the next year, an optimistic 50 percent of those surveyed said their crystal balls show everything remaining constant. But nearly 32 percent foresee a decrease and just 19 percent look for an increase, according to Pharma IQ, which surveyed 535 industry employees during the waning weeks of 2011.
About 48 percent noted their departments had not been downsized. But of those whose departments were whacked, nearly 61 percent reported the job function was now being covered by a smaller number of people, while 25 percent pointed to outsourcing and another 10 percent say the job function had been moved to an emerging region.
Despite industry problems, more than 71 percent believe that pharma is undergoing a "dramatic change" due to the recession, with the US and Europe being hit equally hard. And nearly 48 percent think the industry is "ill-prepared to deal with another recession." Of course, timing is everything. Imagine if pipelines were flush and patents did not start expiring as the recent recession began.
Meanwhile, almost 40 percent believe that the R&D pre-clinical sector has taken the biggest hit during the recession. After that, 31 percent pointed to sales and marketing; 11 percent cited manufacturing; 11 percent named clinical work, and the remainder listed regulatory affairs, IT and distribution.
Where will investments be made? Nearly 31 percent of the respondents are betting on sales, while 22.5 chose R&D preclinical work and 21 percent cited clinical. Another 12 percent named manufacturing, while IT, distribution and regulator affairs garnered about 5 percent each. However, there was no consensus on marketing spending: 35 percent expect increased spending, 30 percent foresee a decrease and 35 percent say spending will remain static this year.
And despite the costs of bringing a drug to market, fewer than 20 percent expect their departmental budget to rise this year. Nearly 41 percent, though, expect a drop and a similar proportion do not see any change.
In case you were wondering, here is the composition of the respondents: nearly 28 percent came from the R&D preclinical sector, 15 percent from sales and marketing and 14 percent from clinical. The remainder came from others areas, including regulatory affairs, manufacturing, IT and distribution (you can read the complete report here).