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Boehringer Ingelheim Axes 600-900 Drug Sales Reps

Boehringer Ingelheim will ax between 600 and 900 pharmaceutical sales reps as the company heads over a generic cliff in 2010, according to Pharmagossip and CafePharma. Pharmagossip reported that "600 or more" reps got the ax in a Tuesday morning phonecall.

Since the beginning of the week, BI's board on CafePharma has lit up like an Xmas tree with worried reps. This thread appears to contain the text of an email sent to BI staff regarding the layoffs. The relevant part states:

Earlier today, BI announced a reorganization of its Field Sales structure and size to do the following: ...
· Require approximately 30% fewer positions to achieve our goals within the Primary Care, Cardio Pulmonary and Neurology sales forces, creating an organization of approximately 2,200 positions overall.
That math means about 942 reps will be laid off. BI's Q2 2009 earnings release hints at the reasons (in not-great English):
Due to important patent expiries, for instance for the drug Flomax® in the USA, Boehringer Ingelheim in 2010 is likely to see virtually no significant growth after ten years. Yet already in 2011 a new period of growth will be heralded from new innovative medications...
Revenues for the first half were actually up 15.7 percent to €6.4 billion.

Meanwhile, out in the field, confusion reigns. Reps have questions about severance, and whether there are more layoffs to come. In some areas, half of all primary care reps appear to have been given pink slips.

The situation was perhaps worse for people whose names begin with letters near the end of the alphabet. The company made calls to reps to deliver the news in alphabetical order, it seems.

Is there any hope on the horizon? If BI can get its new anticoagulant, Pradaxa (dabigatran) approved in the U.S., perhaps.