Novartis to lay off another 100-plus employees at US HQ as global restructuring rolls on

After cutting hundreds of jobs in New Jersey around the start of this year, Novartis is at it again.

Novartis plans to lay off 103 employees at its its U.S. headquarters in East Hanover, effective in November, according to a state WARN notice (PDF).

These new cuts follow a larger round of layoffs by Novartis in the Garden State. Late last year, Novartis shared a plan to eliminate 285 jobs across three units at its East Hanover campus.

Back then, roles across commercialization, drug development and corporate operations landed on the chopping block.

This time, Novartis is cutting the 103 positions in clinical operations as part of its new approach to “enable faster trial recruitment and enhanced trial delivery,” a spokesperson told Fierce Pharma.

The new model, announced last fall, “will enable consistency and coordination across geographies and addresses an industry-wide trend of increasing lifecycle and trial costs in developing new medicines,” the spokesperson added.

The Novartis HQ in East Hanover houses about 4,100 staffers. Besides the cuts, the company is implementing a new campus design that, according to the spokesperson, “will enable the Innovative Medicines US organization to co-locate into one area of campus, allowing associates to collaborate more easily and create a greater sense of community and culture.”

Novartis’ notice closely follows a separate disclosure from Bristol Myers Squibb about 108 impending layoffs in New Jersey.

Novartis and its employees are no strangers to layoffs. As part of a major restructuring launched by CEO Vas Narasimhan in April 2022, Novartis has disclosed plans to eliminate around 8,000 jobs worldwide, or about 7% of its entire workforce.

The Swiss drug giant recently increased its cost-savings goal under that initiative to $1.5 billion by 2024. That’s a change from the company’s original annual savings target of $1 billion.

For 2022, Novartis booked $1.2 billion in restructuring costs. Its total head count dropped by 2.5% last year to end at about 101,700.

Meanwhile, it's not only employees that Novartis is sending to the exit. In 2021, the Big Pharma firm divested about 62 acres of land at the East Hanover campus. And it’s working to spin off the generics and biosimilars unit Sandoz to focus on innovative medicines. The separation is now expected to happen on or around Oct. 4, according to an update last week.

Plus, Novartis recently agreed to sell dry eye med Xiidra to Bausch + Lomb in a deal potentially worth $2.5 billion. The Swiss pharma also terminated a TIGIT cancer drug collaboration with BeiGene.

Despite all the cutbacks and a patent setback for its top-selling drug Entresto, Novartis in July unveiled a new $15 billion share buyback program, which is expected to wrap up by 2025. Similarly, BMS is cutting jobs in New Jersey despite reaching accelerated share repurchase deals with several banks totaling $4 billion.

Novartis’ stock price enjoyed a boost earlier this year after the positive readout of Kisqali in early-stage breast cancer. But Narasimhan believes the company is still undervalued against its potential.