Any company announcing plans to ‘restructure’ and ‘repurpose’ itself tends to send out tremors across the industry, but for US employees of Dublin-headquartered Warner-Chilcott — the latest firm to use these tried and tested euphemisms — this could fuel a sigh of relief.
Following the loss of patent exclusivity of its best-selling osteoporosis drug Actonel, the company’s President of European and Global Marketing, Hans van Zoonen, announced last week that a strategic review of European operations has resulted in a “restructuring initiative” that will allow Warner-Chilcott to pursue growth opportunities that align with its “key competitive strengths”.
The blunt reality of this in Europe is the axing of 500 jobs — a fifth of the company’s workforce — in Belgium the Netherlands, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Switzerland and the UK. The only Western European areas to be spared are its facilities in Ireland and Weiterstadt, Germany, and its commercial operations in the UK.
But these European cutbacks signify part of a plan to shift the company’s focus further towards the US market. Already, of Warner-Chilcott’s current 2700 employees, the majority (1700) are the US. This balance will shift even more, of course, when the layoffs take effect, and the company is also placing more eggs in its US basket with the launch, later this year, of its new osteoporosis treatment, Atelvia, and its contraceptive, Loestrin.
As one industry blogger has noted, with the expected dash of cynicism, where else can the company focus on for new revenue but the US, “where we pay far more than the rest of the world for our drugs”? Whether or not this gamble pays off, Warner-Chilcott’s cuts in Europe should keep its US ambitions afloat for a while longer.