By Rocky Swift
TOKYO, July 29 (Reuters) - Takeda Pharmaceutical Co 4502.T is looking to cut sales jobs in Japan in its latest restructuring effort, as it overhauls domestic business following its $59 billion purchase of Shire Plc, sources familiar with the company's plans said.
Major pharma companies in Japan have scaled down their sales forces to cope with a shrinking market and cuts in drug prices imposed by the national health system.
The layoffs by Takeda, Japan's biggest drug maker, will be focused on sales positions, two industry sources told Reuters requesting anonymity to protect professional obligations.
Takeda wants to reduce its ranks of medical representatives, who promote drugs to doctors and hospitals, and rely more on contract sales organisations to improve flexibility, said one of the people.
Neither source had an estimate for the number of job cuts nor the timing.
Takeda said no decisions had been made on layoffs.
"This transformation is not intended to reduce headcount," Takeda said in a statement to Reuters, adding it would say more following consultations with the labor union.
Takeda said earlier this month it would focus on five business areas in Japan and revamp its human resources system. The plan involves a move away from Japan's typical lifetime employment system.
It announced a pause in new drug trials in March except for its plasma-derived COVID-19 therapy. The company is due to report quarterly results on Friday.
The purchase of Shire, completed early last year, diversified Takeda's global sales, with about half now coming from the United States.
But the deal also saddled the drugmaker with a large debt pile and Takeda is seeking to shed $10 billion in non-core assets to reduce debt.
(Reporting by Rocky Swift; Editing by Miyoung Kim and Stephen Coates)
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