Biopharma Companies Shuffle Locations, Moving or Cutting Jobs in the Process

Layoffs Reduced Workforce_Compressed

Given how hard the global economy got hit during the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s a bit surprising there weren’t more job cuts in the biopharma industry. Still, as biopharma companies focus on efficiencies and close sites, jobs are getting lost. Here’s a look.

J&J Closes South San Francisco Site

Johnson & Johnson filed a WARN notice with California regulators, announcing the closure of its facility in South San Francisco. As part of the closure, it is relocating 73 jobs out of state, specifically to Titusville, New Jersey, if they agree to the move. Otherwise, they will be laid off.

The site is home to several divisions, with the largest job cuts at Actelion Pharmaceuticals U.S., which J&J acquired in 2017. There are 36 positions associated with marketing, administration and medical and scientific affairs. Other units affected include J&J Health Care Systems, with five; Janssen Scientific Affairs, with 11; Janssen Pharmaceuticals, with eight; J&J International, with six; J&J Services, with three; Janssen Global Services, with two; and Johnson & Johnson, with two.

“We are relocating our U.S. Pulmonary Hypertension home office from San Francisco, CA to Titusville, New Jersey to integrate our Pulmonary Hypertension business with the rest of our Janssen therapeutic areas, foster closer collaboration to drive growth and innovation, and broaden career opportunities for our team members,” the company stated. “We are not eliminating any jobs as part of this transition. All employees whose roles are in scope have the option to relocate, and Janssen will provide assistance and cover relocation costs for employees who choose to move to the East Coast.”

Roche Knocking Down Facility in Ireland

When it couldn’t find a buyer for its manufacturing facility in Clarecastle, Ireland, Roche decided to dismantle it. In addition to removing the 10 buildings and infrastructure on the 88-acre site, the company is removing approximately 40,000 metric tons of waste identified at the location. That will require more than 90,000 metric tons of backfill afterward.

Roche plans to finish the project by the end of 2024, then three years of follow-up to evaluate the “effectiveness of the remediation process.”

The closure is one of four the company announced in 2015. Roche found buyers for factories in Italy, Spain and North Carolina, but couldn’t find a buyer for the Ireland site. The site employed 130 chemists, engineers, manufacturing and lab technicians, accountants, IT specialists and craftworkers.

Gilead Cutting 178 Jobs in California

On March 3, Gilead Sciences filed a WARN with the state of California that it planned to cut 178 jobs effective May 30. Half of the jobs, 89, are expected to move to the company’s new service center being built in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina. The new North Carolina location will employ 275 people when construction is done in two years. Gilead reinforced that it is committed to maintaining its headquarters in Foster City, California. The company employs more than 13,000 people around the world, with more than half in California.

GlaxoSmithKline Cut 300 Jobs

In mid-February, U.K.-based GlaxoSmithKline announced plans to close antibiotics production in the U.K. after closing on a $500 million product sale to Novartis’ Sandoz division. GSK’s supply commitment to Sandoz runs until 2025, but it is preparing to close one site and downsize another, cutting 300 jobs.

Under the terms of the deal, Dandoz is paying GSK $350 million at closing an additional milestones up to $150 million. The agreement includes global rights to three cephalosporin antibiotics, Zinnat, Zinacef and Fortum in more than 100 countries. Some of the rights are excluded in the U.S., Australia and Germany, which were previously divested by GSK. GSK is also holding onto the rights to some brands in India, Pakistan, Egypt, Japan and China. At the time, GSK didn’t announce specific job cuts, but indicated that all 170 roles in the Zinnatt supply chain would be affected.

Amgen Cutting Mostly U.S. Sales Jobs

In early February, Amgen announced they were eliminating hundreds of U.S. jobs, most in the sale division. The company indicated the layoffs will allow Amgen to invest in other opportunities, including new product launches and research-and-development. The announcement was part of its fourth quarter and 2020 full-year financial report. In it, Amgen cited a 9% growth in sales of $25.4 billion. The gains were primarily based on volume growth but were offset by lower net selling prices and the pandemic.

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