Sanofi plots 670 layoffs in France as local tensions brew

December 7, 2018

Sanofi may be on the up-and-up thanks to its vaccines unit and new anti-inflammatory star Dupixent, but the company still intends to shed more than 600 jobs in its home country over the next couple of years.

The French drugmaker told unions Wednesday that it’s plotting 670 cuts in France between now and 2020, a union representative told Reuters. The layoffs will hit the company’s human resources, IT and finance departments, among others.

Sanofi will also outsource 80 IT jobs, according to the report. A Sanofi spokesperson did not immediately return FiercePharma’s request for comment.

That’s not to say Sanofi intends to neglect France, though. It plans to invest €700 million in the country to upgrade manufacturing sites for vaccines and other biologics, Reuters reported.

Still, the layoffs could spark outrage in a country that’s already experiencing some of its fiercest protests in recent history. What started as opposition to fuel tax increases has spilled over into several other issues and general anti-government sentiment.

“We are blindsided as Sanofi makes significant amounts of profits. And at a time of strong social tensions in France, the government is looking the other way,” union representative Thierry Bodin told Reuters.

Sanofi has made several rounds of layoffs in recent years, including in France. In February of 2016, reports listed more than 500 chopped jobs in the country as part of CEO Olivier Brandicourt’s $1.6 billion cost-cutting drive.

The company’s cardio-metabolic sales force in the U.S. has also been hit hard as pricing pressure squeezed Sanofi’s diabetes unit. Earlier this year, the pharma giant said it would eliminate 400 workers, and that announcement followed a December 2016 move to slash 20% of its U.S. diabetes sales force.

Luckily for Sanofi, these days, other products are moving in to fill the gap. In the third quarter, sales from new products—led by Dupixent—more than made up for the sales void created by low-cost competitors to Lantus and Renvela, helping Brandicourt usher in a “new growth phase” for Sanofi.

Sanofi isn’t the only Big Pharma with job cuts in process or coming soon. Bayer, for one, said last week that it would cut 12,000 jobs as it sells off business units and remakes the company for its post-Monsanto-buyout future.

By Carly Helfand

Source: Fierce Pharma