Sanofi-Aventis To Lay Off 1,700 U.S. Employees

BRIDGEWATER, N.J. (AP) -- Sanofi-Aventis SA, the world's fourth-biggest drugmaker, said Friday it is eliminating 1,700 jobs in its U.S. pharmaceutical business in a restructuring triggered by growing generic competition and other factors.

The layoffs amount to about 25 percent of the workers in the company's U.S. pharmaceutical business, and will primarily hit sales representatives around the country and administrative staff at Sanofi's American headquarters in Bridgewater, N.J.

About 1,400 sales staff will be laid off, as well as about 300 staff in various administrative jobs, Sanofi-Aventis spokesman Jack Cox said.

"Barring any unforeseen events, we do believe the changes we're making now will make us the right size (in the U.S.) for our product portfolio through 2013, when we expect to return to growth," Cox said.

The cuts amount to about 13 percent of Sanofi's entire U.S. work force of 13,000 and 1.6 percent of the 105,000 employed worldwide.

Decisions on which employees will go are to be finalized by the middle of December.

The head of Sanofi's U.S. business, Gregory Irace, announced the plan to employees Friday morning.

It's part of an industrywide trend to cut costs as increasing generic competition limits revenue.

The company says the move will allow it to focus people and resources on key areas for the American pharmaceutical business -- medicines to treat diabetes, cancer and heart problems that can lead to dangerous blood clots.

In New York trading, Sanofi-Aventis shares rose 18 cents to $34.22 Friday morning.
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