About this Author
DBL%20Hendrix%20small.png College chemistry, 1983

Derek Lowe The 2002 Model

Dbl%20new%20portrait%20B%26W.png After 10 years of blogging. . .

Derek Lowe, an Arkansan by birth, got his BA from Hendrix College and his PhD in organic chemistry from Duke before spending time in Germany on a Humboldt Fellowship on his post-doc. He's worked for several major pharmaceutical companies since 1989 on drug discovery projects against schizophrenia, Alzheimer's, diabetes, osteoporosis and other diseases. To contact Derek email him directly: Twitter: Dereklowe

Chemistry and Drug Data: Drugbank
Chempedia Lab
Synthetic Pages
Organic Chemistry Portal
Not Voodoo

Chemistry and Pharma Blogs:
Org Prep Daily
The Haystack
A New Merck, Reviewed
Liberal Arts Chemistry
Electron Pusher
All Things Metathesis
C&E News Blogs
Chemiotics II
Chemical Space
Noel O'Blog
In Vivo Blog
Terra Sigilatta
BBSRC/Douglas Kell
Realizations in Biostatistics
ChemSpider Blog
Organic Chem - Education & Industry
Pharma Strategy Blog
No Name No Slogan
Practical Fragments
The Curious Wavefunction
Natural Product Man
Fragment Literature
Chemistry World Blog
Synthetic Nature
Chemistry Blog
Synthesizing Ideas
Eye on FDA
Chemical Forums
Symyx Blog
Sceptical Chymist
Lamentations on Chemistry
Computational Organic Chemistry
Mining Drugs
Henry Rzepa

Science Blogs and News:
Bad Science
The Loom
Uncertain Principles
Fierce Biotech
Blogs for Industry
Omics! Omics!
Young Female Scientist
Notional Slurry
Nobel Intent
SciTech Daily
Science Blog
Gene Expression (I)
Gene Expression (II)
Adventures in Ethics and Science
Transterrestrial Musings
Slashdot Science
Cosmic Variance
Biology News Net

Medical Blogs
DB's Medical Rants
Science-Based Medicine
Respectful Insolence
Diabetes Mine

Economics and Business
Marginal Revolution
The Volokh Conspiracy
Knowledge Problem

Politics / Current Events
Virginia Postrel
Belmont Club
Mickey Kaus

Belles Lettres
Uncouth Reflections
Arts and Letters Daily
In the Pipeline: Don't miss Derek Lowe's excellent commentary on drug discovery and the pharma industry in general at In the Pipeline

In the Pipeline

« The One-Stop CRO | Main | Pharmville: Good Grief, This Looks Awful »

September 25, 2012

Sanofi Cuts Back in France

Email This Entry

Posted by Derek

Sanofi looks set to announce cutbacks and re-orgs in France:

In addition to Toulouse, research jobs could go in Montpellier, southern France, in addition to Strasbourg, eastern France, as well as Chilly and Vitry-sur-Seine near Paris.

A number of vaccines unit and support jobs could also be slashed as part of the reshuffle.

Chief Executive Chris Viehbacher, a German Canadian who is Sanofi's first non-French top manager, is now focusing on France as part of his drive to boost productivity in research labs company-wide after wielding the axe in other countries.

"The reality is that our research in France hasn't really come up with a new medicine in 20 years and therefore we have to take a much more productive approach to how we do this," he told analysts in July. "It is a reorganization within France. It's not externalizing research to other countries."

The company is regrouping its research operations around the world into regional hubs - such as Boston, where its rare disease unit Genzyme and cancer research labs are based - while shuttering other laboratories.

That's not going to be popular, given France's history of lively labor relations. But everywhere else in the Sanofi world has heard the swish of the ax, so it can't come as that much of a surprise, can it?

Update: well, here's the announcement itself. And maybe this is my first impression, but compared to what's gone on in other Sanofi sites (like Bridgewater), this one comes across like a shower of dandelion fluff. No reduction in the number of sites, no actual layoffs - just 900 positions to phase out, mostly via attrition, over the next two years. The Toulouse site is the only loose end; that one is the subject of a "working group" to figure out what it's going to do, but I see no actual language about closing it.

Comments (8) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business and Markets


1. insilicoconsulting on September 25, 2012 6:51 AM writes...

Doing this in Hollande's socialist France is going to be especially difficult.

That's why they brought in a non-frenchie to take the @!#*!(pun intended)

Permalink to Comment

2. Am I Lloyd on September 25, 2012 8:22 AM writes...

I love how, when these CEOs hold forth on the bloodbaths, the words "downsize" and "layoffs" constantly appear with the words "enhance" and "boost" in the same sentence.

Permalink to Comment

3. lionel on September 25, 2012 8:53 AM writes...

I don't know how Mr. Viehbacher can not take into account of the Sanofi history. Sanofi has grown by multi-merging and not closing the acquired site to keep different sites of research with different manner of doing research and thus more chance to have results.

Now, closing a maximum of research site (Bridgewater, Toulouse, ...), and regrouping research on a small number of site is all against the history and the view of how the company has been constructed.
But maybe, because Mr V. do not come from the company, he can not understand the weight of this history.

For the Toulouse site, it will go out from the Sanofi company and maybe it will continue to live for 5-10 years, but clearly I doubt of the long-life of the site...

(A french people that worked a small time in Toulouse).

Permalink to Comment

4. imatter on September 25, 2012 10:22 AM writes...

I read the announcement. What closing?

Permalink to Comment

5. Anon E. Mouse on September 25, 2012 1:47 PM writes...

According to an article on Fierce Biotech the French government said "Non" to Sanofi's original plans to cut 2300 jobs.

Permalink to Comment

6. DCRogers on September 25, 2012 1:56 PM writes...

"The reality is that our research in France hasn't really come up with a new medicine in 20 years and therefore we have to take a much more productive approach to how we do this"

Since when has past research productivity had any role in decisions of site closures/downsizings? Pfizer/Ann Arbor comes to mind... I'm sure readers can add more such sites.

Permalink to Comment

7. Jose on September 25, 2012 7:02 PM writes...

Wonder how much of this related to the spectacular crash-and-burn of the Sanofi's dengue vaccine reported last week in The Lancet?

Permalink to Comment

8. JR on September 25, 2012 10:23 PM writes...

Yet another pathetic buckle in deference to the French government. 900 jobs over 3 yrs vs 2000 in NJ in 1 yr, and this is just the most recent iteration of biased site closures and downsizing. Sterling Winthrop in PA, RPR in PA, RPR in Dagenham in England are just 3 that pop to mind vs how many in France over 15yrs? 1 small site at romainville which was spun out without job losses during the Aventis merger. 13 research sites in France unaffected by merger after merger, with a total delivery to the world pharmacopeia of what? 35h work week, early retirement with full state support and benefits, >6 weeks of annual vacation. While the rest of the company has to make up for their lack of productivity and also take the fall every step along the way. vive la France.

Permalink to Comment


Remember Me?


Email this entry to:

Your email address:

Message (optional):

The Last Post
The GSK Layoffs Continue, By Proxy
The Move is Nigh
Another Alzheimer's IPO
Cutbacks at C&E News
Sanofi Pays to Get Back Into Oncology
An Irresponsible Statement About Curing Cancer
Oliver Sacks on Turning Back to Chemistry