Despite Bayer’s recent confirmation that it is to cut 6,100 jobs, it should be noted that the firm will also employ 1,700 people in the coming years after the initial restructuring, the German group’s chairman says.

Speaking at the company's spring press conference in Leverkusen, Werner Wenning declared that the 6,000 job losses are a necessary step as part of a strategy to realise synergies of 700 million euros from the integration of Schering AG from 2009. Such a merger “obviously leads to a surplus,” he noted, “and we can’t maintain structures that diminish our competitiveness.” However once that structure has been rationalised, the growth that Bayer Schering Pharma is going to experience in future will mean more job creation in the necessary areas.

Mr Wenning told PharmaTimes World News that 1,400 of the planned jobs cuts would come in R&D but stated that no existing projects “that we believe in” are due to be cancelled and the posts that are likely to be lost will involve support roles. He added that the integration process of Schering is going well and that Bayer had learnt lessons from the purchase of Roche's over-the-counter medicines unit at the end of 2004 for 2.4 billion euros and realised that transparency and speed were the keys to a successful merger.

Arthur Higgins, chairman of Bayer HealthCare, told PharmaTimes World News that pain is part of such mergers but strong management can alleviate that suffering, noting that “people can live with decisions but they can’t live with indecision.” He also noted that the evaluation of the combined entity’s R&D portfolio is progressing well and Bayer will reveal details what is in and what has fallen out of the pipeline at a meeting scheduled to take place in Leverkusen in June.

Earlier Mr Wenning had told PharmaTimes World News that of the group’s 2.8 billion R&D budget this year, around two-thirds will go on health care, and much of that is earmarked for Phase III trials for the thrombosis drug rivaroxaban, a Factor Xa inhibitor, in the chronic indications of stroke prevention in atrial fibrillation and treatment of venous thromboembolism in a once-daily dose regimen.

Mr Higgins expressed his satisfaction with the performance of the firm and gave special mention to Bayer’s consumer health unit which brought in 4.2 billion euros for the year, up 8.1%. He dismissed any notion that a divestment of the business or its diabetes care division (or indeed animal health) saying he likes units that offer “pharma growth without pharma risk.” He concluded by noting that Bayer Health Care is making huge strides in emerging markets such as China, Brazil, Mexico and Russia, where the company is ranked around fifth or sixth in terms of sales. By Kevin Grogan in Leverkusen