Roche job cuts mount to 365 as drugmaker rethinks packaging

Roche is cutting more than 360 manufacturing jobs in the U.S. and Europe as it makes efficiency moves in both biologics and small molecule drugs.

Just hours after Roche confirmed that 130 workers will be cut from a California facility by year-end, the drugmaker said it will shave 235 jobs from a plant in Europe as it switches up how it handles drug packaging.

The drugmaker said that in the future it expects to handle the packaging of each product at the site at which it is produced, meaning big changes for its site in Kaiseraugst, Switzerland, which currently handles quality control and packaging for many of its small-molecule drugs.

The company said Monday it will begin relocating packaging to other locations, a move that will cost Kaiseraugst about 235 jobs, mostly in 2019 and beyond. The site, which had grown rapidly in recent years, has about 1,600 employees.

“For chemically produced medicines, the Kaiseraugst site will in future focus on the production and market introduction of new, specialized medicines in smaller volumes,” a spokeswoman said.

RELATED: Roche's Genentech whacking 130 jobs at California plant as its cancer drugs come under renewed assault

That disclosure came hours after Roche said that it will eliminate 130 jobs from its Genentech biologics plant in Vacaville, California.

“We are making this organizational change in response to current and anticipated production requirements, the volumes required for some of our new medicine formulations and shift schedule adjustments,” the company said in an emailed statement about the job losses in California. 

Genentech said that workers will get extended healthcare and other help through the transition and that it is “committed to the continued success of our operations in Vacaville, which is our largest manufacturing facility and a vital part of the global Roche network.”

RELATED: Roche to supersize biologics production to meet biologics' super forecasts

Roche acquired the Vacaville site as part of its buyout of Genentech in 2009, including one plant that had yet to open. Deciding it had surplus biologics capacity, Roche mothballed that Genentech cell culture facility. In 2013, with demand for some of its drugs growing and biosimilar development by competitors struggling, the Swiss drugmaker opened the Vacaville plant and hired several hundred workers and, two years later, even expanded it. However, Roche's competitive outlook has altered again as biosimilars are beginning to eat at the market share of some of its top-selling medicines.