Pharmaceutical industry jobs cuts have numbered almost 300,000 in the past decade, with the heaviest cuts, nearly 235,000, in the past six years. However, the job cuts in recent years are not necessarily recession-related. Major industry events, such as numerous blockbuster drugs going off patent and redundancies as a result of merger mania, have been the culprits. Over 100,000 sales jobs alone have been lost in the past five years, and U.S. pharma companies have reduced the numbers of R&D scientist jobs as discovery has increasingly moved to emerging markets such as India and China.
In addition to the increased R&D activities in emerging markets, pharmaceutical companies are looking to maintain and increase sales of drugs in these markets after patents expire and generic competition cuts into revenue. Sales in emerging markets are predicted to reach about $400 billion by 2020, which is equivalent to the current size of the U.S. and the five biggest European markets combined. As a result, while R&D and sales jobs remain at a low in the U.S., competition for life sciences and sales talent will increase in emerging markets.