Drugmaker Eli Lilly to trim workforce by nearly 9 percent

FILE - This Tuesday, July 17, 2012, photo shows the Eli Lilly corporate headquarters in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH/AP) — Eli Lilly will slash its global workforce by nearly 9 percent as the drugmaker closes some research sites and pushes to trim fixed costs.

The Indianapolis company said Thursday it will cut about 3,500 positions, mostly through a voluntary retirement program in the United States. The insulin maker employed 41,240 people worldwide at the end of June.

Lilly will close research and development sites in Bridgewater, New Jersey, and Shanghai, China. It also will move production from an animal health manufacturing site in Larchwood, Iowa, to another plant.

Chairman and CEO David Ricks said in a statement that his company wants to streamline its business in order to invest in new treatments and capitalize on recently launched drugs. The company expects about $500 million in annual savings from the cuts.

The company does not consider the layoffs negative news. In fact, the CEO is already planning for the future and the possible launch of two new medicines by the end of next year. A spokesperson said they are happy with the company’s fourth quarter performance and growth projections.

When we dug into the company’s recent past we found there were other layoffs earlier this year. In March, employees tied to a new Alzheimer’s drug were let go, but the company would not say how many could be shifted into other positions, and how many were actually laid off.

Just four months ago, Eli Lilly announced plans to invest $850 million into its nationwide operation this year.

Eli Lilly stock on Thursday climbed $1.03, or 1.3 percent, closing at $81.54.