Novartis - Top 10 pharma layoffs of 2011

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Company: Novartis ($NVS)
Based: Basel, Switzerland
Job cuts announced: 2,000
Date revealed: Oct. 25
Themes: Shifting work to Asia, European drug market decline

The scoop: Novartis CEO Joe Jimenez blamed the slumping European drug market when the Swiss drug giant announced plans to cut 2,000 workers in late October. Novartis aims to save $200 million per year, but the cuts touched off a series of labor protests in the company's home country and the expected outrage among scientists who have often been the victims of Big Pharma cutbacks. While the drugmaker shifts development work to Asia and other global sites, pinks slips are being handed out at a number of its facilities in the U.S. and Europe.

The Swiss media have pegged the actual total number of layoffs at Novartis at 2,500, noticeably more than the company's projected 2,000 job cuts. The company hasn't confirmed the larger figure.

The unlucky Novartis sites include a neuroscience drug R&D group in Basel that is expected to shut down, a manufacturing plant in Nyon, Switzerland, and another in Italy. Also, Novartis has reportedly laid off R&D workers in New Jersey and other employees in the U.K. At the same time, however, Novartis is betting a fortune on its growing R&D hub in Cambridge, MA, where work has begun on a $600 million complex near MIT that is expected to open in 2015, The Boston Globe reported.