‘Tis the Season: Job Cuts and C-Suite Shifts at Novartis, BridgeBio and Nektar

Novartis_Harold Cunningham/Getty Images

Harold Cunningham/Getty Images

Earlier this month, Novartis announced plans to restructure global operations, which would include thousands of job cuts. 

BioSpace has confirmed the job cuts with a company spokesperson saying, “We can’t give a precise figure as we are still working on many of the design elements of the new organization. As a broad range, we expect a number in the single-digit thousands of roles across the company would be impacted by these changes. This will be subject to consultation with works councils and subject to the finalization of the full organizational structure.”

The global restructuring plan will merge Novartis' oncological and pharmaceutical divisions into a single innovative medicine (IM) business. Marie-France Tschudin will helm the international IM division.

The job cuts were first reported by the Swiss newspaper Tages-Anzeiger.

At the time, a Novartis spokesperson told BioSpace, “The new organizational structure, which we announced last week, is central to our growth strategy as it will make us more agile and competitive, enhance patient and customer orientation, unlock significant potential in our R&D pipeline, and drive value creation through operational efficiencies. These efficiencies will come through leaner structures and will inevitably lead to roles being impacted.”

The restructuring also left a couple of company executives without positions, including Robert Weltevreden, president of customer & technology solutions and Susanne Schaffert, head of Novartis Oncology. Shreeram Aradhye will replace Chief Medical Officer John Tsai.

On Tuesday, BioSpace reported that Nektar Therapeutics was undergoing a strategic reorganization that included cutting 70% of its workforce. This is mainly in response to Bristol Myers Squibb abandoning a clinical collaboration in bladder and renal cell carcinoma.

According to Nektar president and CEO Howard W. Robin, the company is refocusing on three pillars: “value-enhancing data and other milestones”’ to right-size the organization and ensure it has enough money to operate through the first half of 2025 without dipping back into the investor well.

In addition to cutting 70% of its staff to primarily focus on NKTR-255 for bladder cancer and as a cell therapy potentiator, and NKTR-358 for lupus, atopic dermatitis and an undisclosed autoimmune indication, changes are being made in the C-suite. Dr. Dimitry Nuyten, M.D., Ph.D., company chief medical officer, is stepping down after a transition through June 2022, and Dr. Brian Kotzin, M.D., Nektar’s head of immunology, will take over as CMO. John Northcott, company chief commercial officer, is leaving the company in June but staying on as a strategic consultant until the end of the year.

At the beginning of April, BridgeBio confirmed rumored job cuts with BioSpace, with company founder and CEO Neil Kumar stating, “This is part of a necessary and ongoing cost reduction process. We are sorry to see our colleagues go - a great number of whom contributed significantly to our mission to serve patients.”

In late January 2021, BridgeBio completed a merger with Eidos Therapeutics, which the company said allowed it “to deploy its full clinical and commercial infrastructure to support the development and global commercialization plans underway for Eidos’ acoramidis, a potential best-in-class therapy for patients with transthyretin (TTR) amyloidosis (ATTR).”

It’s not unusual for mergers and acquisitions to lead to job cuts to eliminate redundancies and accommodate shifting strategic initiatives. The company, in late December 2021, reported puzzling topline data from Part A (Month 12) of its Phase III ATTRibute-CM study of acoramidis for symptomatic transthyretin (TTR) amyloid cardiomyopathy (ATTR-CM). The placebo cohort performed unexpectedly well, even by historical standards, with a decline of more than 70% than observed in the AATR-ACT treatment group.

Now, Cameron Turtle, Ph.D., BridgeBio’s chief strategy officer, has abruptly stepped down from his role, which he’d held for about 16 months. He’d been with Eidos since 2017, where he was vice president, business development and operations.

BridgeBio confirmed Turtle’s resignation to BioSpace without further comment.

Regarding the job cuts, a BrdigeBio spokesperson told BioSpace, “Consistent with current market conditions, we continue to aspire to cut hard and fast. That does mean in some cases parting with colleagues and programs that we hold dear. We look forward to a fulsome update on the totality of this activity in the weeks to come.”

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