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Eli Lilly Cutting U.S. Sales Force

By Tim Brugger - Apr 12, 2013 at 3:19PM

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The end of patent protection will reportedly mean 1,000 salespeople lose their jobs.

Eli Lilly (LLY 1.11%) intends to lay off salespeople as it faces pending U.S. patent expirations. The company is "restructuring its sales force to adapt to changing customer realities, evolutions in the health care environment and upcoming loss of exclusivity for two major products," according to a statement from J. Scott MacGregor, Lilly USA communications director.

The two biomedicine drug patents at issue are Cymbalta, which expires in December, and Evista, which expires in March 2014. Employees were notified of the sales force reduction on Wednesday. The Associated Press reports the job cuts will happen by July 1.

MacGregor also noted the planned expansion of the company's diabetes sales force for the planned launches of two diabetes-related medicines that "are in our late stage pipeline." He would not confirm the number of sales representatives the company intends to release due to the U.S. patent expiration, or the number of additions to its diabetes unit.

However, Reuters is crediting a "person familiar with the matter" as saying 1,000 Eli Lilly biomedicine salespeople will be let go, while 300 are expected to be hired as a result of the planned diabetes medicine launches. Lilly has some 38,000 full-time employees. Reuters says 17,000 are in the United States.

Eli Lilly salespeople affected by the cuts are spread across the country. According to the statement from MacGregor, the restructuring "will not affect any other sales forces, other corporate functions in Indianapolis [where the company is headquartered] or other affiliates around the world." 

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