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Novartis to axe Horsham site

Published on 27/02/14 at 09:01am
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Novartis' UK site in Horsham, West Sussex

Novartis has confirmed that it will cease all of its pharmaceutical operations at its Horsham, West Sussex site this year.

The Swiss firm said in November it was ‘consulting’ on the closure of the facility, but has now told local newspaper the West Sussex Gazette that it will close all operations down in the area by the end of June, putting around 400 jobs at risk.

A spokesperson for Novartis said: “Following the announcement we made in November 2013 about the possible future of the R&D site in Horsham, we can now confirm that we will closing the site later this year. We expect research operations at the site to cease by the end of June.

“This is a result of a global review of our R&D locations and where best to co-locate research teams to support collaboration. It is part of the company’s ongoing efforts to align resources to serve patients and customers better in a challenging healthcare marketplace.”

It follows a similar decision by Pfizer in 2011 which cut down on operations at its European R&D headquarters in Sandwich, Kent.

Pharmafile first broke the news of Novartis’ impending closure in 2011 when it initially said it would be closing its manufacturing operations in the area - but maintaining an R&D presence - making this week’s decision a U-turn on that promise.

The firm acknowledged that the complete closure would be ‘difficult news for our employees’ based at the site, adding that it would work closely with everyone over the next few months to ‘provide them with suitable support’.

The company said it could not yet comment on the future of the site, “but are committed to exploring a range of options, working closely with our partners to identify potential new owners. These options could include the use of part of the site for a science or business park.”

This is what has happened at Pfizer’s former Sandwich R&D centre, which was recently turned into a ‘Discovery Park’ by a private consortium.

Horsham had been the company’s worldwide headquarters for respiratory and gastro-intestinal research, but these study areas have fallen out of favour with the firm.

The decision also comes as the company looks to shake up its global strategy by restructuring its manufacturing and R&D presence.

The spokesman added: “Novartis will continue to employ over 2,500 people and be a major inward investor to the UK. We will retain an extensive footprint in the UK with manufacturing sites at Grimsby (Chemical Operations), Liverpool (Vaccines) and Dundee (Animal Health), commercial offices in Surrey, and a team at Sittingbourne, Kent, developing near patient diagnostic testing products.”

Ben Adams 

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