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Pfizer, Stock Rising on Cost Cuts, Plans More Staff Layoffs

Once again, Pfizer (PFE) is cutting its sales force. As part of what has become a never-ending reorganization, the drug maker is eliminating between 10 percent and 20 percent of its primary care sales team across the US, according to sources. Formal notification is expected to be issued to employees by December 20.

The precise number of jobs to be cut is unclear and a Pfizer spokesman declined to provide specifics or state how many sales reps the drug maker currently employs in its primary care teams or in total in the US. But he did acknowledge in an email that cuts are going to be made.

“As part of our strategy to allocate our resources, investments and people to the areas that best serve our patients and customers, we continually evaluate how we can be more efficient and effective,” a Pfizer spokesman writes us. “As a result, we are making changes in some segments of our field force to better match the future needs of the business. Our U.S. field force is a valued resource that we remain committed to developing throughout this period of change.”

PFE Expenses Quarterly Chart

PFE Expenses Quarterly data by YCharts

As reported previously, Pfizer disclosed plans months ago to cut $1 billion in expenses on top of the billions in cuts that have already been drained from R&D and marketing over the past few years in the wake of the 2009 acquisition of Wyeth and in response to generic competition, notably the top-selling Lipitor cholesterol pill (read Pharma news and Pharma news).

Of course, Pfizer is only one of many big drugmakers that continue to shed sales reps. Recently, Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMY) disclosed plans to cut nearly 500 such positions because Otsuka Pharmaceuticals is assuming responsibility for marketing the Abilify antipsychotic in the U.S. Earlier this year, Novartis (NVS) began cutting more than 1,600 reps in the US. AstraZeneca (AZN) and Abbott Laboratories (ABT) have also made sizeable cuts recently.

Ed Silverman, a contributing editor of YCharts, is the founder and editor of Pharmalot. He previously reported on the pharmaceutical industry and other business topics for the Star-Ledger of New Jersey, New York Newsday and Investor’s Business Daily.

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