Hard medicine

Drug Firm's Sales Causing Headaches

boehringer dpa
The conveyor belt of new Boehringer drugs is faltering.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    Boehringer has been caught off guard by a sudden dip in sales. It’s now taking action to shore up losses and labor representatives fear up to 1,000 jobs in Germany alone could go.

  • Facts

    Facts

    • In the first half of 2014, Boehringer sales declined 3 percent to €6.5 billion ($8.37 billion).
    • The company has taken on 900 new staff in Germany this year.
    • A new restructuring program aims to cut costs by 15 percent.
  • Audio

    Audio

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For more than 15 years, the pharmaceutical company Boehringer Ingelheim grew year after year. Sales surpassed the overall market, production increased steadily and staff numbers grew. And most new drugs the company developed won regulatory approval without too much difficulty.

Over the past two years, however, Germany’s second largest drug maker has endured a series of difficulties that caused sales to plunge – and now the family-owned company is reducing costs in a sudden course correction. Labor representatives fear up to 1,000 jobs in Germany alone could be lost.

That would be a complete turnaround for Boehringer. This year alone, the company has increased staff in Germany by more than 900 employees, or by about 7 percent.

The current layoff fears were sparked when the pharmaceutical giant announced a cost-cutting program in August that aims to cut costs by 15 percent. The company said it needs to free up money to “continue to invest vigorously in organic and sustainable growth,” a formula that Andreas Barner, the company’s chief executive, uses to justify the cuts.

Boehringer has not confirmed how many employees would lose their jobs and said details would be worked out by the end of the year.

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