Novartis to axe 2,000 jobs

City A.M. Reporter
Novartis AG is slashing 2,000 jobs in Switzerland and the United States to keep costs under control in the face of growing price pressures and the strong Swiss franc, the Swiss drugmaker said on Tuesday.

The Basel-based group has already cut thousands of jobs, shut several sites, notably in Britain. It has also shifted its focus to speciality medicines over the past year in a bid to boost profitability and protect its bottom line.

The latest measures, which affect 1.7 per cent of Novartis' global workforce and involve moving more commoditised business activities to less expensive countries, should allow the group to rake in annual savings of more than $200m.

Like its cross-town rival Roche, Novartis is having to deal with the double blow of price pressures and a strong currency, which has pushed up the cost of doing business in Switzerland.

The two groups have stressed their commitment to investment in Switzerland, but they are both outsourcing routine manufacturing and other operations to cheaper countries.

Over the next three to five years, Novartis will close two sites in Switzerland and one in Italy.

It will scale back and outsource technical research and development, data management, clinical trial monitoring, drug safety and epidemiology and drug regulatory affairs in Switzerland and the United States.

Some research activity will be moved from Switzerland to the United States, and Novartis will create 700 new jobs in low cost countries, the group said.

The extra cost-saving measures were offset, however, by news that two lung drugs Novartis is developing with British partner Vectura will face a delay in the United States, a blow to a new franchise Novartis is seeking to build up.