September 14, 2009

Eli Lilly to lay off 35,000

U.S. pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly and Co. said its restructuring plan would include shedding 35,000 positions by the end of 2011.

In a statement, Lilly's Chairman and Chief Executive Officer John Lechleiter said the focus of the changes was to streamline product development, including more than 60 current drugs in various stages of research.

The job cuts, he said, were in anticipation of future hurdles.

While our financial performance during the past few years has been strong, we will soon enter the most challenging period in our company's history, he said. This calls for strong measures to speed our output of new medicines.

Major pharmaceutical firms are under increasing pressure to develop new products as patents of blockbuster drugs end and makers of generic drugs step in to compete with companies' primary money makers.

This is a pivotal moment for our company. The need for breakthrough medicines -- to help aging populations, to provide treatments and cures for deadly diseases, and to improve on inadequate options for many diseases -- has never been greater. Lechleiter said.