Pfizer completed its $67 billion acquisition of Wyeth Pharmaceuticals last fall, just one in a string of recent mergers and acquisitions in the pharma industry. When asked how the two meetings departments would be affected and how procurement and sourcing would be handled, Joan Campion, a spokeswoman for Pfizer, declined to get specific: “I can tell you that Pfizer is continuing to evaluate its global workforce, which includes our medical meetings group, to determine how best to support patients and customers, support our businesses, and operate at a cost-competitive level.”

However, one thing is certain: layoffs. A condition of the merger requires Pfizer to eliminate nearly 20,000 jobs — a 15 percent reduction in the company's workforce. The company said the cuts would “span sales, manufacturing, research and development, and administrative organizations,” according to an article in The Wall Street Journal.

Pfizer has announced it would close six of its 20 research and development facilities. The company is also scheduled to move work from its St. Louis operation, which housed some of its meetings professionals, to other locations, according to the WSJ. It also planned to cut about 600 of the 1,000 jobs in the St. Louis area.

Pfizer planned to consolidate the functions at Wyeth's Great Valley, Pa., campus primarily into its Collegeville, Pa., campus (which houses some of the company's meetings management functions), and as a result, expects to exit the Great Valley campus in mid-2010. However, the decision to keep the Collegeville facility open does not mean that all employees at that location will keep their jobs nor does it mean that all Great Valley employees will lose theirs when that facility shuts down, according to a report in the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Meeting volume often falls off drastically in the months leading up to the go-live date for a merger; however, meetings will likely return — at least in the short term — now that the merger is official, predicted one industry professional who preferred to speak anonymously. “When two pharma companies merge, they have to do some cross-training on each other's products. There are realignment meetings and training meetings for the sales force,” he says.

When pharma companies merge it is common for the meetings team to work with procurement to drastically narrow down the scope of third-party vendors they use, says Judy Johnson, president and CEO of Rx Worldwide Meetings Inc., a Plano, Texas-based pharmaceutical meetings management company.