Gilead cuts 7% of staff at Kite Pharma unit as 'refreshed business strategy' introduced

Gilead Sciences' Kite Pharma cell therapy unit is undergoing a business review that will result in layoffs to about 7% of the organization’s workforce.

In a letter sent to staff this week that was obtained by Fierce Biotech, Kite Pharma Executive Vice President Cindy Perettie previewed a “refreshed business strategy” that would better align the unit’s strategic priorities.

“As a result of this careful review, certain functions are reorganizing their team structures to optimize how we deliver on our strategy," the letter said. "In some cases, we are also making the decision to reduce the number of roles in certain areas of our business that are not aligned to our refreshed strategic priorities and in areas where there may be more efficient ways to achieve those priorities, which may impact some team members."

A spokesperson for Gilead confirmed the changes and said the cuts affect 7% of the workforce, however about 90 roles are being created that are better aligned with the organization’s focus. That means the net impact is about 5%, according to the spokesperson.

“While our business is performing well and we are making a meaningful impact for patients eligible for CAR T therapy, we believe there is a great deal of opportunity to continue to drive the adoption of our therapies,” the company said in a statement. “Therefore, we are taking measures to further align our business for future growth, including streamlining some areas of the organization to better optimize operational efficiency.”

According to the letter, the layoffs are focused on the U.S. and any changes outside the country “are anticipated to be small.”

The affected employees have received notices to meet with company leaders to discuss the changes, Perettie wrote. There will be a number of town hall meetings this week for different sections of the unit and a global all hands meeting is scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 30 “to share updates as one Kite team.”

“We have made difficult decisions, but we believe these changes will help position the company for more sustainable growth and enable us to reach more patients,” Perettie wrote. “Change can be unsettling – especially where there may be a direct impact to your colleagues or to you personally.”

Perettie, who took the top spot at Kite Pharma in May 2023, promised that the company will work with the affected employees to identify potential opportunities within Gilead or Kite.

The layoffs come just as another headwind arrives for Kite Pharma. The FDA announced a safety review of CAR-T therapies Tuesday after reports of secondary cancers following treatment with approved cell therapies. Kite’s Yescarta and Tecartus were among the six approved cell therapies on the FDA’s list of medicines that are subject to the review.