Amid corporate restructuring, Novartis plots 680 layoffs in development group

Even as Novartis rolls ahead with a global restructuring campaign targeting thousands of job cuts, the Swiss drug giant has blueprinted several hundred layoffs in its development organizational unit.

Novartis on Tuesday revealed plans to shake up its global development group over the next two to three years. The plans call for a “parallel build-up and reduction of roles in certain locations,” a company spokesperson said over email.

Novartis plans to cut around 440 development positions in Switzerland plus up to 240 roles in the U.S., the spokesperson said. The plan was first reported by Reuters.

“Novartis is today communicating plans to evolve our global Development organization, with the intent to drive sustainable, leading R&D performance and bring meaningful medicines to patients even faster,” Novartis' spokesperson told Fierce Pharma. “As we invest across the company to maximize the value of our robust portfolio and advanced technology platforms, a set of changes to build future capabilities and access global talent pools will be implemented over the next 2 to 3 years, with parallel build-up and reduction of roles in certain locations.”

Back in September, as part of the company’s reorganization strategy, Novartis rearranged its operations into five units, including development. The group oversees the creation of promising new medicines and helps chart the path toward regulatory approval for those drugs, the Swiss company said in its recent annual report.

In that same report, Novartis explained that its development team works in tandem with biomedical research and commercial units. The team employs staffers focused on regulatory affairs and global clinical operations, among other roles.

These days, Novartis employs more than 12,500 staffers across its development arm, according to the company’s spokesperson. Overall, Novartis is looking at a potential 1% to 2% global staff reduction across the development group, the spokesperson added.

Novartis remains committed to Switzerland as the company’s global headquarters for development, while the U.S. remains a key hub as well, the company's spokesperson said.

The development layoffs are separate from Novartis’ broader restructuring campaign, which the company divulged in April 2022. At the time, Novartis said it would cut thousands of jobs worldwide as part of a revamp to improve efficiency and slim down the company’s overall structure. 

By June 2022, Novartis specified that it would lay off around 8,000 members of its global workforce as part of its cost-savings scheme, with the goal to save $1 billion by this year.