Now it's New York: Novartis eyes another 500-plus job cuts with plant shutdown

Novartis ($NVS) apparently has job cuts on its January to-do list. After announcing a 500-job shuffle in Switzerland yesterday, the drugmaker now confirms that it will shutter a New York plant that employs 525 people.

The shutdown will begin in the second quarter and continue through at least 2016, Novartis spokeswoman Julie Masow told The Journal News of Westchester County, NY. Employees who handle "necessary functions" will be transferred and the rest will lose their jobs.

Local officials said the company appears to be trying to transfer as many workers as possible. "They're seemingly engaged in an aggressive effort to place the folks who are working," county executive Ed Day told the Journal News after a meeting with Novartis managers.

That could be a difficult maneuver, given Novartis' planned cuts in other North American facilities. In December, the company said it would shut down one of its Alcon plants in Canada, with 300 jobs at risk there. In October, Novartis aimed its ax at a vaccines outpost in California. Earlier in 2013, the company decided to move some over-the-counter drug production to Switzerland from its troubled plant in Lincoln, NE.

All of these moves come against a backdrop of 2,000 U.S. job cuts announced in 2012, most of them in sales and marketing, but some on the manufacturing side. And in its home country, Novartis says it's planning to shave 500 jobs from pharma R&D and administration, while hiring a similar number in manufacturing, supply-chain management and other functions to support new product launches.

Bigger changes are afoot, perhaps soon; the company is in the middle of a strategic review, with plans to either beef up or sell off several of its smaller business units. Animal health and vaccines are said to be first on its list, and the scuttlebutt is that it's looking to trade those two businesses for Merck's ($MRK) consumer health unit. No deal yet, however. 

- read the Journal News story

Special Reports: Top 10 Pharma Companies by 2012 Revenue - Novartis | The top 10 pharma layoffs of 2012 - Novartis

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