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Novartis axes 250 US jobs, moves data operations to India

May 26, 2017
  • Novartis is eliminating 250 U.S. jobs as part of a reorganization effort that will move its data operations unit to a drug development site in India.
  • The cuts include 204 positions in East Hanover, N.J., home to the Swiss pharma’s stateside headquarters, 11 in Massachusetts, and around 35 more in various other U.S. locations, such as Fort Worth, Texas, according to a company spokesman. Novartis did not disclose the financial implications of the layoffs.
  • This is the second workforce reduction in a month for the big drugmaker. Like many of its peers, Novartis has been streamlining manufacturing and R&D operations in an effort to cut costs and spur innovation. The company also revealed in mid-May it is trimming 500 positions around its main base in Basel, Switzerland.

This latest round of cuts underscores big pharma’s push for consolidation — not just of pipelines and portfolios, but of research and manufacturing spend. In Novartis’ case, the creation of its Global Drug Development organization, which manages drug development for the Innovative Medicines unit and biosimilars, last July is spurring workforce reorganization.

“As part of this integration, we will be consolidating our data operations organization to our global development site in Hyderabad, India, which allows us to improve efficiencies through increased harmonization and standardization,” the company wrote in an email to BioPharma Dive. “The United States continues to play a significantly large role in our business and we remain committed to our research, facilities and headquarters within New Jersey and several other locations in the United States.”

Other large drugmakers have also turned to job cuts as one means of restructuring. In the last year, Alexion and Eli Lilly disclosed plans to reduce global headcounts by hundreds, while AstraZeneca and Boehringer Ingleheim are each eliminating about 700 jobs in the U.S., most of which relate to field operations or sales work.

Notably, contract research organization Parexel recently said it is also axing about 1,200 positions in countries where cost of labor is more expensive, and shuffling those roles over to less expensive markets such as India.

Job cuts are rarely positive news, and Novartis has made efforts to soften the blow.

The company is creating new positions, for example, including 350 high-tech positions in drug research and production, as well as 40 manufacturing jobs focused on CAR-T therapies at its Morris Plains, N.J., site, according to a spokesman. Notably, Novartis is in a heated race with Kite Pharma — and until recently, Juno Therapeutics — to be first to market with a CAR-T product.

Employees affected by the most recent round of layoffs can apply for other, open positions, according to a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification form received by the New Jersey Department of Labor on May 22. The staff cuts will take effect on July 28.

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