Pfizer says it is to reduce its US sales force by about 20%, or around 2,200 jobs, to “match the organisation’s business needs”and cut costs.

However, the world’s largest drugmaker claimed that the cuts will not affect the strong support it will give to big earners like the cholesterol-lowerer Lipitor (atorvastatin) and Celebrex (celecoxib) for arthritis or for “important new products” such as pain medication Lyrica (pregabalin), Chantix/Champix (varenicline) for smoking cessation and Exubera (inhaled insulin) for diabetes.

The news follows an announcement in October where Pfizer promised to undertake a comprehensive review of every aspect of its operations “with the goals of being more agile, effective and capable” and it will give further information about the review in January. The company is making a major R&D presentation to analysts on Thursday.

Chief executive Jeffrey Kindler said that the field force “will now be in a much better position to adapt to changes in our product mix” and went on to praise the sales force’s efforts, saying it gives the company “a critical competitive advantage.” He added that “the relationship of our representatives with physicians and health care professionals is one of Pfizer’s most important assets.”

Analysts welcomed the move and Pfizer’s announcement may have an impact on the way other firms look at their field force. If the pharmaceutical world’s major marketing power is making cutbacks, it may not be long before its rivals follow suit.