Big Phar­ma promised Trump new Amer­i­can jobs for tax cuts and dereg­u­la­tion. But the vow comes af­ter a 5-year purge

Am­gen CEO Bob Brad­way has nev­er been re­luc­tant to bring out the ax and chop staff.

Late in 2014, the com­pa­ny an­nounced their orig­i­nal re­struc­tur­ing plans to re­duce pay­roll was too mod­est, up­ping its goal on job cuts to 4,000. And the phar­ma gi­ant fol­lowed up in the spring of 2015 by ax­ing about 300 staffers af­ter Brad­way de­cid­ed to shut­ter the Onyx cam­pus ob­tained with its ac­qui­si­tion of Kypro­lis.

On Tues­day, though, Brad­way be­came a job cre­ator.

“We’ll be adding 1600 jobs at Am­gen this year,” he told Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, min­utes af­ter the pres­i­dent had fin­ished a ha­rangue about the new Amer­i­can jobs he ex­pect­ed in ex­change for re­duced reg­u­la­tions.

But “adding” may not be en­tire­ly ac­cu­rate.

“This in­cludes both work­ers who will bring new skills to Am­gen, as well as those re­quired to ad­dress at­tri­tion and oth­er needs,” spokesper­son Kris­ten Davis told the Los An­ge­les Times. “We look for­ward to work­ing col­lab­o­ra­tive­ly with the new ad­min­is­tra­tion.”

Sev­er­al Big Phar­ma chiefs joined Brad­way for the ses­sion with Trump. And in most cas­es, they rep­re­sent glob­al com­pa­nies that have been bend­ing over back­wards to rein in R&D costs and hold the line on spend­ing, par­tic­u­lar­ly in the US. In a cou­ple of cas­es, you’ll find some heavy job loss­es glob­al­ly, with ma­jor cuts di­rect­ed at US work­forces.


Brad­way’s com­pa­ny em­ployed 17,900 staff mem­bers at the end of 2015. Five years ear­li­er the to­tal was 17,400. And that slight gain is a big im­prove­ment over his peers, if you judge them on their abil­i­ty to add em­ploy­ees.

Ken Fra­zier, CEO of Mer­ck was al­so en­thu­si­as­tic about hir­ing in his sit-down with Trump, some­thing that hasn’t been the case for the past five years, as the com­pa­ny re­struc­tured and axed thou­sands of staffers, in­clud­ing job cuts for a top-to-bot­tom R&D over­haul.

“We’re bring­ing man­u­fac­tur­ing back for our can­cer drug,” he told Trump. “We’re bring­ing those jobs here.”

At the end of 2015, Mer­ck em­ployed 68,000 em­ploy­ees world­wide, with ap­prox­i­mate­ly 26,200 em­ployed in the Unit­ed States.

At the end of 2010, the com­pa­ny re­port­ed that it had ap­prox­i­mate­ly 94,000 em­ploy­ees world­wide, with ap­prox­i­mate­ly 37,600 em­ployed in the Unit­ed States. To be fair to Mer­ck, the com­par­i­son caught the com­pa­ny as it was still shed­ding staffers from the big Scher­ing-Plough buy­out. That re­struc­tur­ing was slat­ed to wrap up at the end of 2012, when Mer­ck had 83,000 em­ploy­ees world­wide, with ap­prox­i­mate­ly 32,500 em­ployed in the Unit­ed States.

Bot­tom line: Mer­ck shed 15,000 more jobs af­ter the Scher­ing-Plough re­org was sched­uled to end, US em­ploy­ment dropped by 6,300.

“We’re look­ing at ways to ex­pand,” Joe Jimenez, CEO of No­var­tis, told Trump. “One of the things that can help us is a low­er tax rate.”

No­var­tis is well known as a glob­al play­er that doesn’t leave a stone un­turned when it comes to find­ing new ef­fi­cien­cies. That cost-cut­ting spir­it drove an R&D over­haul last year, and new pro­grams aimed at do­ing every­thing the Swiss com­pa­ny can do to hold the line on costs. That ap­proach has had a big im­pact on em­ploy­ment.

No­var­tis counts FTEs. At the end of 2016 they em­ployed 118,393, 23,037 in the US and 55,205 in Eu­rope. Five years ear­li­er, the score was 123,686 to­tal and 27,242 in the US. The cuts were clear­ly aimed at its US staff.

“We’re hir­ing man­u­fac­tur­ing jobs as I speak,” said Eli Lil­ly CEO Dave Ricks. “Some of the poli­cies you’ve sug­gest­ed — tax, dereg­u­la­tion — those are things that could re­al­ly al­low us to ex­pand op­er­a­tions.”

At the end of 2015, Eli Lil­ly em­ployed 41,275 peo­ple, in­clud­ing ap­prox­i­mate­ly 23,425 em­ploy­ees out­side the US. That is up slight­ly from 2010, but on­ly af­ter some se­ri­ous at­tri­tion in the US. Five years ear­li­er  Lil­ly em­ployed 40,360 peo­ple, in­clud­ing ap­prox­i­mate­ly 20,300 em­ploy­ees out­side the Unit­ed States.

Trump’s re­sponse to Ricks: “Yep, we’ll get it.”

None of this is new. The ba­sic trend over the past decade in Big Phar­ma has been to shrink the base or guard against any big run-up in em­ploy­ment. CEOs like Brad­way and Fra­zier en­joyed a pos­i­tive re­ac­tion on Wall Street as they cut costs. Now, the new po­lit­i­cal sea­son calls for talk­ing about cre­at­ing jobs and push­ing Con­gress for tax cuts — which they want bad­ly — and dereg­u­la­tion, which has not been a ma­jor is­sue at all.

None of the CEOs who turned up for Tues­day’s pow­wow with the pres­i­dent, though, was of any mind to re­mind the com­man­der in chief of any mar­ket re­al­i­ties.

Com­mu­ni­cat­ing the val­ue of pre­ci­sion med­i­cine

By Natasha Cowan, Content Marketing Manager at Blue Latitude Health.
Many stakeholders are confused by novel precision medicines, including patients and healthcare professionals. So, how can industry help them to navigate this complexity?

Precision medicine represents a new paradigm in healthcare. It embodies the shift from treating many patients with the same therapy, to having the tools to identify the best treatment for every patient.

Spe­cial re­port: Twen­ty ex­tra­or­di­nary women in bio­phar­ma R&D who worked their way to the top

What differentiates a woman leader in biopharma R&D from a man?

Not much, except there are fewer of them in senior posts. Data suggest women are not more risk-averse, family-oriented or less confident than their male counterparts — indeed the differences between the two sexes are negligible. But a glance at the top R&D positions in Big Pharma leaves little doubt that upward migration in the executive ranks of biopharma R&D is tough.

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GSK's asth­ma bi­o­log­ic Nu­cala scores in rare blood dis­or­der study

GlaxoSmithKline’s asthma drug Nucala, which received a resounding FDA rejection for use in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) last year, has shown promise in a rare blood disorder.

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Mer­ck buys a fledg­ling neu­rode­gen­er­a­tive biotech spawned by an old GSK dis­cov­ery al­liance. What’s up with that?

Avalon Ventures chief Jay Lichter has a well-known yen for drug development programs picked up in academia. And what he found in Haoxing Xu’s lab at the University of Michigan pricked his interest enough to launch one of his umbrella biotechs in San Diego.
Xu’s work laid the foundation for Avalon to launch Calporta, which has been working on finding small molecule agonists of TRPML1 (transient receptor potential cation channel, mucolipin subfamily, member 1) for lysosomal storage disorders. And that pathway, they believe, points to new approaches on major market neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s, ALS and Alzheimer’s.

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FDA slaps a hold on an AML tri­al as Mark­er scraps a fail­ing ovar­i­an can­cer pro­gram, sink­ing shares

The FDA has placed a hold on a Phase II AML trial from the small immuno-oncology biotech Marker Therapeutics. Marker disclosed the issue two weeks after responding to FDA concerns, adding it to the Q3 release Tuesday. The company also announced it was scrapping a Phase II ovarian cancer program it determined was unlikely to succeed.

The agency’s concern centers around two reagents used in manufacturing for their trial for acute myeloid leukemia patients who have received a stem cell transplant. The reagents are from third parties and not present in the final product, Marker said.

Eli Lil­ly-backed biotech grabs $100M to dis­patch an­ti­body-oligonu­cleotide con­ju­gates af­ter mus­cu­lar dy­s­tro­phy

Hold up your hand. Make a fist. Now open it. And again.

If you can do it fully and with ease, then the proteins in your hand are likely working properly. If you can’t then they may not be. In people with myotonic muscular dystrophy, something more atomic is going on.

In those folks, the problem is RNA. Certain base pairs repeat far beyond normal, up to 11,000 superfluous letters in some cases. The extended strands form “clumps.” Proteins misform and can’t function properly. They often allow one movement but not the reverse, a condition called myotonia that gives the dystrophy its name.

As­traZeneca sets stage for mar­ket­ing ap­pli­ca­tion with promis­ing piv­otal lu­pus drug da­ta

After fumbling in its first late-stage lupus study, AstraZeneca disclosed that a second pivotal trial testing its experimental drug, anifrolumab, had met the main goal, in August. Earlier this week, the British drugmaker broke out the numbers from its successful study.

Last year, anifrolumab failed to meet the main goal of diminishing disease activity in the 460-patient TULIP I study, a 52-week trial that tested two doses of the drug versus a placebo. But in the 373-patient TULIP II study, the higher dose (300 mg) was compared to patients given a placebo — patients in both arms were on baseline standard care.

FDA Vas­cepa re­view spot­lights new safe­ty sig­nals, pos­si­ble min­er­al oil spoil­er as Amarin hunts a block­buster ap­proval

An in-house FDA review of Amarin’s Vascepa raises a set of hurdles the biotech will have to clear if the biotech expects to get the long-awaited FDA approval that could set it on a path to superstar status. But it appears that Amarin has survived another potential setback without introducing a major new threat to its prospects.

The stakes don’t get much higher, with analysts saying a win this week for Amarin could lead to billions in new sales — provided the agency stamps it with an OK. And investors liked what they say in the FDA review this morning, bumping the stock $AMRN 17%.

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FDA puts Sol­id Bio’s lead gene ther­a­py pro­gram on hold — again — af­ter an­oth­er pa­tient is hurt by SGT-001

Solid Biosciences continues to be plagued by safety issues.

Close to 18 months after the gene therapy biotech was able to quickly shed an FDA hold on their lead Duchenne muscular dystrophy program for SGT-001, regulators have stepped back in to force another halt after another patient was hit hard by a set of serious adverse events remarkably similar to the first set.

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