Roche to Streamline Operations in Switzerland, 190 Workers Affected

Published: Sep 02, 2016

Roche to Streamline Operations in Switzerland, 190 Workers Affected September 2, 2016
By Alex Keown, Breaking News Staff

BASEL, Switzerland – Drugmaker giant Roche is combining two production operations in its hometown of Basel in an effort to streamline production, which will result in the termination of 190 positions, Reuters reported this morning.

Citing a statement from Roche, Reuters said the company will merge its active substance and small molecule production lines. The move supports a shift in the company’s portfolio, with a focus on specialized drugs in smaller volumes. Roche told Reuters lower capacity is required as its older drugs, which require “significantly higher production volumes,” lose patent protection. Roche is facing the loss of revenue from some of its aging drugs, including cancer therapies Rituxan and Herceptin. Roche though does have a strong pipeline and is preparing for the future, which includes its new late-stage drug Gazyva, which Roche argues is an improvement over its own Rituxan.

The job loss announcement came shortly after Roche received an Emergency Use Authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for a Zika virus test. The LightMix test is used for the detection of Zika virus in EDTA plasma or serum samples using Roche's LightCycle 480 Instrument II or cobasz 480 Analyzer.

Like most companies that have to quickly shift strategies to meet market needs, Roche has had to make jobs cuts across several divisions over the past year. In July, the company announced that it will terminate approximately 350 IT employees across the globe by the end 0f 2017. Roche said 100 of the cuts will impact workers based in Switzerland and 100 IT employees in the United States. The remaining 150 are based globally, the company said.

Last year, Roche announced that it would vacate four manufacturing sites in the United States and Europe, displacing approximately 1,200 employees as part of a restructuring effort for the manufacturing of its small molecule products. Roche said the affected sites are in Florence, S.C. in the United States, Clarecastle in Ireland, Leganes in Spain and Segrate in Italy. In order to evade job loss, Roche said it will look for divestment opportunities, as opposed to immediately planning to close the sites. Roche said the restructuring effort will begin in 2016 and continue through 2021.

But while Roche has been forced to make some cuts, the company has also brought on new talent to support various operations. Earlier this summer, Roche said it plans on adding 300 positions at its shared services locations, including Madrid and Kuala Lumpur, Reuters reported.

Roche employs approximately 91,000 employees in 100 different countries.

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