Wil, which conducts contract research on behalf of the pharmaceutical, biotechnology and chemical industries, provides a range of analysis at its laboratory in Ashland, Ohio, US.
The company explained the reasoning behind the job cuts. It said that: “big pharma and biotechnology firms…have focused on advancing late-stage candidates and acquisitions in favour of funding early stage development activities.”
CEO Mark Nemec explained that: "Like other global companies operating in the professional services sector, our organisation has not been completely excluded from the wake created by the deterioration in the nation's economy."
Nemec, who replaced former head Joseph Holson late last year, told the Ashland Times Gazette that: “The positions eliminated were mainly support jobs away from the scientific mainstream,” adding that he does not expect to make further cuts.
Wil’s difficulties are not unique among contract research organisations (CRO). In recent weeks most of the major industry players like Kendle, Parexel and PPD, have scaled back their financial expectations for 2009 citing a drop off in demand.
Covance and Charles River Laboratories (CRL), which tend to focus on early-stage trials and hence provide the best comparison for Wil, are also undergoing similar order book difficulties.
Both firms posted reduced Q1 income and Covance cut its earnings per share guidance to between $2.50 and $2.70.