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A Bitter Pill

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The drugs firm has to take its medicine.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    The family-owned pharmaceutical giant has avoided the kinds of belt-tightening that other drug producers have faced, but the combination of dwindling sales and expiring patents has the company looking for ways to save money until new drugs produce substantial revenues.

  • Facts


    • Boehringer Ingelheim has been virtually alone among peers such as Bayer, Merck, Pfizer, Roche and Novartis International, which have slashed tens of thousands of jobs to remain competitive.
    • The company overestimated sales of newer products and underestimated the costs of production and marketing.
    • The pharmaceutical firm is not in a dire situation as it sits on cash reserves of €6 billion, or $7.7 billion.
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The management and works councils of the pharmaceutical giant Boehringer Ingelheim in Rhineland-Palatinate are coping with unfamiliar events these days.

Germany’s second-largest producer of pharmaceuticals faces a painful round of cuts that could mean the loss of up to a thousand jobs in Germany. After two decades of expansion, such a cutback could be a shock to the system for the harmonious family business, even though such cost-cutting measures are now routine in the drug industry.

Practically all major drug producers including the German company Bayer, U.S.-based Merck and Roche and Novartis International in Switzerland have undertaken more or less severe efficiency programs in recent years. Merck and U.S.-based Pfizer together have slashed tens of thousands of jobs to compensate for dwindling sales and the expiration of patents.

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