AbbVie and BMS slash 360 jobs in California, the latest in a streak of biopharma layoffs

Taking a page from the Biogen, Teva and Novartis playbooks, AbbVie and Bristol Myers Squibb are slimming down to the tune of 360 staffers on the West Coast. For BMS, the layoffs are tied to a recent acquisition.

In separate Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) alerts filed this week, AbbVie and BMS let California know they plan to lay off 99 and 261 employees, respectively, in November.

AbbVie’s workers are being let go from a single facility in Irvine, which the city’s chamber of commerce lists as an Allergan manufacturing site. AbbVie bought Allergan for $63 billion back in 2019.

AbbVie did not immediately respond to Fierce Pharma’s request for comment on the layoffs.

Moving down the coast, BMS’ workforce is shrinking across two separate sites in San Diego County, one of which bears the same address as Turning Point Therapeutics’ home base. BMS snapped up cancer specialist Turning Point for $4.1 billion in August.

A BMS spokesperson confirmed over email that the slim-down relates to that deal. All told, 261 staffers are being let go in connection with the acquisition. 

“We are very pleased to have completed the acquisition of Turning Point Therapeutics to further strengthen our leading oncology franchise,” BMS’ spokesperson said. “As part of the integration, all incoming employees received retention packages tied to continued service to BMS for a period of time and have been encouraged to apply to long-term roles at BMS after their retention period ends.”

Alongside the biotech industry, which has suffered a spate of layoffs and restructurings this year, employees at Big Pharmas have been caught in recent job-cut crossfire, too.

In July, reports surfaced that Biogen employed around 300 fewer people in Massachusetts than it had in September 2021. Biogen telegraphed the job cuts in March when it rolled out plans to “substantially eliminate” the commercial infrastructure for its struggling Alzheimer’s disease drug Aduhelm. Altogether, the company has laid out a cost-saving target of $1 billion.

Back out west, Teva Pharmaceutical is downsizing in The Golden State, too. Last month, the Israeli-American generics giant said it would eliminate 305 jobs at its Irvine injectables plant—located in the same city where AbbVie’s workers are set to be dismissed.

A Teva spokesperson ultimately confirmed that the “Irvine facility will not resume production and the company is either transferring or ceasing production of medicines made at the site.”

But the layoffs underway at Novartis easily eclipse all of those other cuts. The company in June unveiled plans to ax 8,000 jobs worldwide on a quest to save $1 billion. During a media event in Zurich last month, the Swiss pharma added that of the 1,400 jobs it plans to cut in its home country, up to half will be leadership roles.

Editor's note: This story was updated to clarify that all of BMS' layoffs are due to its Turning Point Therapeutics acquisition.