Roche, Forma Cutting Jobs in Massachusetts


More than 100 Boston-area employees from two different pharma companies are getting pink slips. Roche and FORMA Therapeutics filed WARN notices with the state informing them of the layoffs.

According to the Massachusetts Worker Adjustment and Retraining Act (WARN) weekly report, that Forma Therapeutics planned to cut 61 employees over the course of the next year. The cuts are slated to begin in March and be completed by the end of March 2020. The report did not provide specifics of why Watertown, Mass.-based Forma Therapeutics was making the cuts. Since 2013, Forma has been working closely with Celgene to develop and commercialize drug candidates to regulate protein homeostasis targets. For Forma, the deal with Celgene could be quite lucrative, particularly as payment for multiple assets is on the table. Under terms of the deal struck in 2013, Forma could receive up to $430 million per program, if certain milestones are hit. However, the terms of that deal could be under renegotiation since Bristol-Myers Squibb plunked down $74 billion in January to acquire Celgene.

Forma Chief Executive Officer Steve Tregay told BioSpace that the cuts were made to provide funding for the company to "advance its wholly-owned pipeline, which has grown considerably over the last several years." The strategic decision was necessary for the company to focus on advancing its clinical programs, as well as organizing its early-discovery efforts in a way that would support the company's focus.

"These strategic shifts necessitated a reduction of approximately one-third of our workforce, impacting 51 people in Watertown and 10 people in Branford, Conn., all extremely talented individuals who are sequential founders of FORMA and contributed to our profoundly meaningful pipeline," Tregay said. "We plan to expand our clinical skill sets and expertise in Watertown with new hires this year to advance our global clinical trials."

Also included in the weekly report was a notice that Swiss pharma giant Roche submitted a notice on Jan. 31 to lay off 55 employees at its CPS-Center of Excellence Hematology in Brighton, Mass. The layoffs of those employees will begin in April of this year and the final job cut will be completed by April 2020, according to the notice. The notification did not provide any details as to why Roche was making the cut. BioSpace has also reached out to Roche regarding the cuts. We will provide an update when we hear from the company.

Since the start of the year, several companies have announced plans to initiate layoffs due to corporate restructuring. Last month, cuts were announced by two companies. Two weeks after its gastric cancer drug failed to hit endpoints in a mid-stage trial, Singapore-based ASLAN Pharmaceuticals is cutting staff and initiating a corporate restructuring and strategic prioritization of its clinical development programs. The company initiated a restructuring to focus its resources on certain key assets and said it will cut its headcount by 30 percent, which will lower operational costs by about 50 percent.

Also making cuts last month was California-based Aduro Biotech. That company cut 37 percent of employees as part of a “strategic reset” to focus on its core strengths of the discovery and development of novel product candidates in the stimulator of interferon genes (STING) and a proliferation-inducing ligand (APRIL) pathways.

At the end of December, Roche subsidiary Genentech announced it planned to cut 83 jobs in California. The cuts were made following a “business evaluation,” a company spokesperson told BioSpace at the time of the announcement.

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