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Roche cuts 1,000 R&D jobs

Published on 27/06/12 at 09:59am
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Roche will make major cuts to its research operations in the US and revamp operations in Europe.

Roche will close its US site in Nutley, New Jersey, with the loss of around 1,000 positions.

The firm said it would move its US R&D activities to Germany and Switzerland, with the aim of curbing drug development costs. The sites in Switzerland and Germany are expected to add around 80 jobs, the company added.

But it is not all bad news - Roche said it would continue building its new US East Coast Translational Research Clinical Center, which should be operational by early 2013, adding 240 new jobs.

Its biotechnology subsidiary Genentech, which handles most of Roche’s R&D, will not be affected, the company said.

The firm also announced that Jean-Jacques Garaud, head of pharmaceutical research, would leave the company at the end of this week. Mike Burgess, currently head of cancer drugs at the firm, will replace him.

Roche’s chief executive Severin Schwan, said: “Our R&D programmes were exceptionally successful over the last 18 months, with 24 out of 28 late-stage clinical trials delivering positive results. The overall number of programmes in clinical development has grown substantially.

“The planned consolidation of our research and early development organisation and the refocusing of R&D activities in Switzerland and Germany, will free up resources that we can invest in these promising clinical programmes while also increasing our overall efficiency.”

He added: “In its 80-year-old history, our Nutley site has made significant contributions to Roche’s success. We will do everything we can to find socially responsible solutions for the employees affected by these changes.”

Roche said it would publish details of the expected financial impact of the planned measures, in particular one-time costs associated with the closure of the Nutley site, as part of its half-year results announcement this week. The financial outlook for 2012 remains unchanged.

‘Good’ cholesterol drug failure

The firm has a strong oncology pipeline but was hit by a major Phase III failure last month when it had to pull its experimental HDL cholesterol drug dalcetrapib.

The firm said this drug could have produced peak annual sales of around $10 billion, but its failure would have left a large gap in Roche’s future revenue; meaning it would be looking to cut costs.

It is one of many big pharma firms that are making major cuts to R&D staff to save money, and follows recent announcements by Novartis and AstraZeneca.

Ben Adams

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