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Beckman Coulter to Cut 8 Percent of Workforce

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Beckman Coulter's president has issued a letter to employees informing them that 8 percent of the company's workforce will be laid off as part of the company's restructuring.

In an internal memo, President Bob Hurley told employees that as Beckman continues on its restructuring following its acquisition by Danaher in late June, it will need to "achieve cost-savings that will allow us to thrive in the environment in which we operate."

He added, "We will achieve significant cost savings this year in a number of areas, including procurement, indirect spend (such as travel and outside services) and reduction of both associates and temporary/contractor workers."

About 8 percent of Beckman's regular workforce "will be affected," with the number of cuts in some parts of the company expected to be higher than in other parts, Hurley added. The firm has around 12,000 employees worldwide.

He said that most of the cuts will happen initially in the US where employees will probably "see more people exit the company in the next month or so." Outside of the US, Beckman "will begin the process of reshaping our company following all local laws and legal requirements."

Those who volunteer to be laid off will have their requests considered, though Hurley said that in some instances, people with certain necessary skills may be denied and cited US sales and services, as well as workers connected with the "DxN project" — the company's effort to develop its UniCel DxN molecular diagnostics platform — as critical to the firm.

Outside of the US, those volunteering to be laid off should consult with their local human resource departments to sort out potential legal issues, Hurley said.

As the firm continues in its effort to resolve quality issues in its operations cited by the US Food and Drug Administration — Beckman received a warning letter from the agency earlier this month — Hurley said, "we must maintain the progress we are making on our compliance and quality system remediation efforts [and] we will not take any actions that could potentially jeopardize those activities."

Hurley's letter was posted on the website Biofind and was confirmed by a Beckman spokeswoman, who referred a request for comment to a Danaher spokesman. On deadline, that spokesperson had not responded.

The impending layoffs would make Beckman at least the third firm in the life science tools space to reduce its workforce numbers, following similar actions by PerkinElmer and Life Technologies.

Also, earlier this month, Beckman received a warning letter from FDA about violations the agency found at Beckman's Brea, Calif., facility. The agency inspected the facility between March 2010 and May 2011 in connection with quality control issues surrounding the company's AccuTnl troponin test kits that run on its UniCel DxI immunoassay system.

In the letter, FDA cited violations that include the failure to establish and maintain proper procedures for the identification, documentation, validation, review, and approval of design changes to devices; a failure to establish and maintain "adequate design validation procedures"; a failure to ensure that all personnel are properly trained to perform their jobs; and other violations.

FDA added that it found Beckman's response in June to FDA's concerns to be "inadequate" and told the company to "take prompt action to correct the violations," or risk regulatory action by the agency.

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