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Big pharma firms’ year-end overhauls

Site closures and job cuts come from a cluster of drug companies

by Lisa M. Jarvis
December 19, 2016 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 94, Issue 49

Several big drug companies are unleashing end-of-year overhauls that include job cuts and shifts in their R&D and manufacturing organizations.

The latest to announce a shift, Bristol-Myers Squibb, is taking steps to focus its research activities at three main hubs: central New Jersey, the San Francisco Bay Area, and Cambridge, Mass. Investments include a new R&D building in Lawrenceville, N.J.; added biologics development capacity in New Brunswick, N.J.; and a biologics expansion in Devens, Mass.

But BMS is also closing sites in Hopewell, N.J., and Seattle, and it will not build a planned drug development facility in Connecticut. The Hopewell facility currently employs about 1,200 people, many of whom will move to other sites in New Jersey and “potential other U.S. locations,” according to a spokesperson. The approximately 80 employees in Seattle could shift to Bothell, Wash., or elsewhere in the U.S.

Meanwhile, other firms announced job cuts, primarily in the sales area. AstraZeneca says it will slash 700 jobs from its U.S. commercial business. Sanofi is trimming roughly 20% of its diabetes and cardiovascular sales force. And Mylan revealed in a federal filing that it will cut “less than 10% of its global workforce”—which at the end of last year totaled 35,000 people—in a streamlining effort after a series of acquisitions.

Although an announcement has yet to be made, cuts are also expected at Eli Lilly & Co., which last month said its Alzheimer’s treatment solanezumab—a critical part of its drug pipeline—failed a key Phase III study.


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