Sanofi-Aventis (SNY) said Friday it plans to lay off 1,700 workers at its U.S. pharmaceutical operations, which amounts to about 25% of its U.S. workforce. The cutbacks are part of an ongoing restructuring to streamline its business amid a "challenging health care marketplace," the company said in a statement.
The French drugmaker said decisions about the layoffs will be finalized in mid-December. Sanofi employs some 6,900 workers at U.S. pharmaceutical division, based in New Jersey. The company's total U.S. workforce numbers 13,000, it said.
"Given the serious challenges facing our organization and the health-care industry, it is important to act decisively now so that our organization has greater stability moving forward and that our resources are allocated to our strategic growth priorities," said Gregory Irace, president and chief executive of the company's U.S. and Canada pharmaceutical operations.
The restructuring will allow Sanofi to focus resources and people in key areas of medical research, including diabetes, oncology and blood clots caused by heart problems, the company said.
The cuts are part of an industry-wide cutback by name-brand drug makers caused by increased competition from generic-drug makers and too few new drug introductions.
News of the cuts came shortly after the Labor Department reported that the nation's employers created only 64,000 jobs in September, not enough to offset the 95,000 lost during the month, largely the result of cutbacks in government jobs. The nation's unemployment rate remained frozen at 9.6%, marking the 14th consecutive month of jobless rates at 9.5% or higher.