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Drug maker Sanofi-aventis Canada cuts nearly 70 jobs

MONTREAL - Drug maker Sanofi-aventis Canada is streamlining its Canadian operations and cutting up to 70 jobs across the country as the Montreal-area company loses patent protection on some of its drugs.

The company said late Wednesday it's making the cuts because it faces challenges in its business from generic companies due to the loss of patent exclusivity on some drugs.

The job cuts are expected to take effect by July.

The Canadian unit of French drug company Sanofi-aventis (NYSE:SNY) also says public drug plans in Canada are not paying for new drugs at the same level as most other countries in the OECD.

“Last September, we announced we would step away from the traditional pharmaceutical business model and rethink our most basic assumptions to ensure sustainable long-term growth,” said Hugh O’Neill, president and CEO of Sanofi-aventis Canada.

“This transformation is an example of our evolving needs to ensure sustainable growth. While the business environment is causing us to scale back our workforce, the company intends to continue its investment in areas that will enable us to meet the needs of patients, deliver more value to the Canadian healthcare system and improve the prospects for sustainable growth.”

The company called for more intellectual property protection for the industry, a move that would give research-based pharma companies more rights to appeal when facing intellectual property challenges from generic companies.

“Our patent protection candle is being burned at both ends,” said O’Neill. “It takes us longer to get our innovative patented medicines on the market at the outset and the lack of intellectual property protection threatens to cut our patent protection short at the other end. We can’t ignore this reality anymore, which runs counter to current trends in large industrialized markets."

Sanofi-aventis has two Canadian units, drug maker Sanofi-aventis Canada Inc., based in Laval, Que., and by Toronto-based vaccines producer Sanofi Pasteur Ltd.

Parent company Sanofi-aventis employs about 105,000 people around the world and makes drugs to treat diabetes, cancer and other ailments. (Source: CP)

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