US drugmaker Eli Lilly today said it planned to lay off ''a significant number'' of sales representatives in the US by July - a major restructuring as it prepares to face generic competition on two of its biggest-selling drugs.
Indianapolis, Indiana-based Elli Lilly did not say how many workers would be axed, but did say that it will be fewer than 1,000 full-time employees as well as an undetermined number of contract workers.
The layoffs, which is expected to be around 30 per cent of its US sales force, will affect workers from its bio-medicines division that sell products like anti-depressant Cymbalta, osteoporosis drug Evista, and other cardiovascular and men's health medicines.
Both Cymbalta and Evista, which generated a little over 40 per cent of Eli Lilly's $11.8 billion US sales last year or 20 per cent of its $22.6 billion global sales, will lose their patent protection in December and March, respectively, next year.
"We planned for this well in advance. This is not something that has happened as a result of the underlying fundamentals of our business," Eli Lilly's spokesperson, Scott MacGregor said. "We're actually performing very well. Cymbalta and Evista actually grew significantly last year."
The layoffs would be the largest after it eliminated 5,500 jobs worldwide in 2009, again over patent losses.
Founded in 1876, Eli Lilly is the world's 10th largest pharmaceutical company and is the world's largest manufacturer and distributor of psychiatric drugs.