Drugmaker Lilly seeks to cut 30 pct of its U.S. sales force -WSJ

April 11 Fri Apr 12, 2013 12:14am EDT

April 11 (Reuters) - U.S. drugmaker Eli Lilly and Co plans to layoff about 1,000 domestic sales representatives to reduce costs, as it faces daunting generic competition, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing a person familiar with the matter.

The restructuring would affect about 30 percent of the company's U.S. sales force and includes both full-time and contract employees, the Journal reported.

At the end of this year Lilly's current biggest product, the antidepressant Cymbalta, will lose patent protection while copycat forms of its $1 billion-a-year Evista osteoporosis drug are due to arrive in early 2014.

Cost controls partly helped Lilly beat Wall Street expectations for the October-December quarter but profit fell on competition from generic forms of its schizophrenia drug Zyprexa.

During the quarter the Indianapolis-based drugmaker took a $74.5 million charge on global restructuring, that included the U.S. sales layoffs, a company spokesman told the paper. At the time of the charge, the drugmaker did not specify how many employees would be losing their jobs.

Lilly had forecast aggressive company wide cost controls for 2013 in January.

The layoffs and reorganization are scheduled to be completed by July, the paper said.

Lilly could not be immediately reached for comment outside regular U.S. business hours.

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